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Serie A

  • April 16, 2011
  • • 12:00 PM
  • • Stadio Olimpico, Roma
  • Referee: A. Romeo
  • • Attendance: 35000

Roma 2-3 Palermo: Late Hernandez brace dashes Giallorossi hopes of Champions League football next season

Roma 2-3 Palermo: Late Hernandez brace dashes Giallorossi hopes of Champions League football next season

A sensational late show from the Uruguayan striker makes life for coach Vincenzo Montella difficult, after seeing his side crash to a hugely disappointing defeat.

Roma's hopes of featuring among Europe's elite next season suffered a huge blow after a 3-1 defeat saw Abel Hernandez score two late goals to earn Delio Rossi his first win in his second spell as Palermo coach. Francesco Totti and Mauricio Pinilla ensured the match was tied for the majority of the game with two first-half penalties, whilst Mirko Vucinic scored a late goal.

Inside the first five minutes, the home side produced a fantastic chance to take the lead. An audacious free-kick from Totti on the edge of the box tricked the Palermo defense, after he accurately drove the ball to John Arne Riise outside the area, and the Norwegian full-back unleashed a stinging volley at Salvatore Sirigu, who could only parry the ball in front of a melee of players. The rebounded effort from Jeremy Menez wasn’t to prove decisive.

Sirigu made another important intervention again just six minutes later, after Menez again was involved in another Roma chance. His powerful close-range shot required the impressive Rosanero keeper to be on his toes. Palermo almost capitalized from the following counter-attack, but Abel Hernandez’s shot was blocked in last-gasp fashion.

The Lupi’s early dominance was repaid with a penalty on the 20th minute, after Menez was taken down cynically by Armin Bacinovic when trying to latch onto a visionary Totti chip pass. Totti then continued his emphatic run of goalscoring form with a superbly driven spotkick into the bottom left corner, with Sirigu diving the opposite way for 1-0. The goal was his 205th league goal, meaning he is now on level with Roberto Baggio in 5th place on the all-time Serie A top goalscorers chart.

Only a couple of minutes later, the much in-demand Javier Pastore had an opportunity of his own to grab an equalizer after being found in the area, but his volleyed shot hit the side-netting. Hernandez had the match’s next noteworthy chance with an explosive snapshot at goal, but his effort went just over.

However, in controversial circumstances, Palermo was awarded a penalty of its own after 42 minutes, as Nicolas Burdisso was adjudged to have pushed Mauricio Pinilla while the ex-Grosseto man attempted an overhead kick at goal. The Chilean hitman dispatched it with great aplomb to ensure his side went into the half-time interval level on terms.

Roma started the second half in explosive fashion once again, with De Rossi crashing a long-range shot, but the midfielder could only manage the supporting posts behind the goal. A minute later and it was Menez who was found on the shoulder of the defense, but after beating the offside trap, his finish was poor and missed the target. The same incident almost happened again shortly after, but Sirigu came well off his line to clear any potential danger.

Vincenzo Montella's men had an incredible opportunity to regain the lead through substitute Mirko Vucinic after the hour-mark. Menez again broke off the Rosanero defensive line and, in masses of space, he fed the Montenegrin striker with just a simple tap-in to an open goal, but he saw his effort blaze over, much to Rosella Sensi’s shock and horror.

The Lupi also threw on Marco Borriello to try and salvage a winner in the last 20 minutes, and his introduction emphasized the team’s attacking mentality. Palermo seemed happy enough to contain the Roman pressure, but also had chances through the likes of Pinilla and Afriyie Acquah.

However, Hernandez scored the winner for Palermo late on in the 84th minute, after Simone Loria's inept defending allowed the visitors to capitalize on a failed offside trap, and the Uruguayan scored his teams' 49th goal of the season.

Hernandez scored once more just six minutes later to seal the victory, through a fine finish with Doni inspiring little confidence with his goalkeeping to make it 3-1 to the Rosanero.

Incredibly, just a minute later, Vucinic made it 3-2 with a fantastic strike, but it wasn't enough to salvage a point. Delio Rossi will be basking in his side's success after tasting win for the first time back. For Vincenzo Montella however, he will be thinking long and hard about Vucinic's amazing miss as a turning point in the match, and possibly their potential Champions League hopes this season.

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