Francesco Totti scored a last gasp winner as Roma gave their Champions League qualifications a big boost with a controversial victory over Udinese.
Roma have cut the gap to Udinese, who are occupying the fourth and final Champions League spot, to just three points after a dramatic, late 2-1 victory at the Stadio Friuli.
Udinese boasted an unbeaten home run stretching back to September and they were hoping to strengthen their grip on fourth place. But it wasn’t to be as Francesco Totti scored a penalty before Di Natale equalized late on, only for 'Er Pupone' to bag all three points for the Lupi with the last kick of the match.
It was the home side who appeared to have the brighter start. Mauricio Isla had a goal deflected wide and Roma ‘keeper Doni fumbled a corner that Udinese failed to take advantage of. Roma almost blundered themselves into going behind, Marco Cassetti striking the ball toward his own goal, only for Doni to save. German Denis, in as a late replacement for Alexis Sanchez, failed to get on the end of a through ball from Isla, before sending a free header over the bar.
After the lively start, things died down. Almen Abdi had a 25-yard shot that stung Doni’s palms, while Udinese narrowly avoided an own goal of their own as Handanovic made a great save from his centerback. Cassetti blasted a shot over after cutting in from the right, and that was the last meaningful action of a disappointing first half.
In the early stages of the second period, the same rhythm emerge as in the first. Isla flashed a shot narrowly wide after being set up by Kojo Asamoah; while at the other end, Mirko Vucinic smashed his effort high and wide after being released through on goal from a long ball.
The deadlock was finally broken when Roma won a penalty in the 56th minute. Pizzaro ran through and Giampiero Pinzi stuck out a leg to bring him down. Francesco Totti stepped up to coolly dispatch the spotkick with a cheeky chip to net his 12th league goal of the season.
Roma had the upper hand and they went in search for a second goal. Totti brought the ball forward on the break, tried to play in Vucinic, but the Montenegrin striker just failed to connect. Handanovic spilled the resulting corner, but Domizzi made an acrobatic clearance when Juan headed it goalwards.
Udinese had a penalty appeal of their own when Burdisso put a hand across Abdi, who managed to get a tame shot in, prompting whistles and boos from the home fans but the referee was not interested.
Udinese went for route-one football and found their equalizer in the 88th minute. Bernardo Corradi flicked on a long ball for Antonio Di Natale, who lost Juan before volleying left-footed past Doni. It was the first chance of the match for the veteran striker, and he never looked like missing it.
In the 92nd minute, Udinese had the ball in the net again when Asamoah scored on the break. However, as the home fans were celebrating, the referee correctly ruled it out for handball.
Before the home players could catch their breath from the drama, Roma launched straight to the other end and scored the sensational winning goal. Riise made the most of a quick throw-in as he pulled the ball back to Totti, and it was 'Er Pupone' who reacted quickest to stab his shot home to give his side all three points with the last kick of the game. The Zebrette players hounded referee Antonio Damato as they left the pitch, but it was to no avail.
Roma gave their chances of Champions League qualification a huge boost, closing the gap to their opponents tonight to just three points. Udinese remain in fourth place, but they will need results against Napoli, AC Milan and Inter if they are to hang on to their loose grip on fourth place.