Roma 2-1 Cagliari: Francesco Totti Brace Ensures Title Race Goes Down To Final Day

The Giallorossi had to come from behind to claim all three points...

Roma's title challenge will go to the final day as they overcame Cagliari 2-1. Andrea Lazzari scored the opener before Francesco Totti scored a brace late on.

The Isolani began confidently but the first real opportunity fell to the hosts when John Arne Riise attacked down the left hand side. The full back crossed it in towards Simone Perrotta on the edge of the area, and he laid it off for Totti to hit a first time shot that ricocheted off the post and back into play.

Totti, who was receiving great support from the home fans as numerous banners displayed their affection for their captain, was clearly desperate to redeem himself after his dismissal in midweek and was heavily involved early on.

After 13 minutes, Jeremy Menez won a free kick on the corner of the box but David Pizarro's low delivery went through everyone and rolled just wide of the left hand post. There were appeals for a penalty for Roma shortly after when Michele Canini's elbow connected with the ball in the penalty area, but the referee waved away the claims.

Menez brought a save from Federico Marchetti after 20 minutes after a fine one-two with Totti, but clear chances were hard to come by for both teams in the opening half hour of the match. Menez almost created an opening when he clipped a ball into Totti but he was quickly dispossessed and De Rossi couldn't take control of the ball.

It was the French trequartista that was at the heart of all Roma's attacking moves as he played Francesco Totti in on goal with 10 minutes to go in the first half before striking a shot just over the bar from inside the box shortly after.

With only minutes remaining in the first half, the hosts came close twice. Marco Motta surprised everyone when he struck a superb shot from distance but saw it crash off the post with Marchetti stranded. Moments later, Perrotta had the ball in the net after turning home Luca Toni's knockdown but he was correctly flagged offside.

Canini nearly played Cagliari into trouble in the opening minutes of the second half but Davide Astori executed a perfect sliding challenge on Menez to ensure the Frenchman didn't have a clear run on goal.

The Giallorossi were much the more adventurous of the sides but the game was being played at such a slow pace that they were unable to carve a way through the Isolani backline. Toni headed wide from a 56th minute corner, and it was his last action of the match as he was substituted for Rodrigo Taddei shortly after.

On the hour mark, Jeda had a good opportunity to score for Cagliari but couldn't test Julio Sergio. Moments later, Alessandro Matri found himself in a similar position and got a shot on target but this time the Brazilian shot-stopper got down to his left to make the save.

At the other end, substitute goalkeeper Cristiano Lupatelli had to tip a Totti shot around the post for a corner to prevent Roma from taking the lead. From the resulting corner, Menez drove a low ball across the box that Lupatelli got a glove to but only succeeded in palming it up into the air; De Rossi couldn't get his follow-up header on target though.

In the 70th minute, Roma hit the woodwork again when Riise's shot from the edge of the box took a deflection and looped over Lupatelli but came back off the crossbar. Taddei then brought a good save from the veteran keeper as the hosts desperately searched for the opening goal.

It was the visitors who would find it though as Riise conceded a free kick 20 yards out with 17 minutes to go. It was touched off to Lazzari who struck it left footed into the corner of the net to send shockwaves around the stadium.

After 77 minutes, Menez put in a low ball for Totti who eventually got the ball out from under his feet but with Lupatelli sprawled on the ground and the goal just in front of him, Er Pupone contrived to scoop the ball over the bar. It was the miss of the season, but moments later Totti found the equaliser when he turned away from Astori inside the box and struck a shot past Lupatelli into the corner.

Minutes later, Roma were handed a lifeline when Riise's cross into the box hit the arm of Davide Biondini and the referee pointed to the penalty spot. Totti stepped up and tucked it into the corner to put the Giallorossi in front.

Unlike their match in Sardinia earlier this season, Roma saw out the remaining minutes without any problems to record an essential victory against the Rossoblu. It wasn't done the easy way, but the result ensures that the title will only be decided on the final day of the season.

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