Roma endure yet another noble defeat but Coppa Italia exit vs. Lazio stings
The last lingering hopes of Roma winning any silverware have been thrown out after Lazio dumped the Giallorossi out of the Coppa Italia semifinals despite a brave 3-2 win that leaves Roma trophy-less and coach Luciano Spalletti with a free pass to leave in the summer. Spalletti had said that he will leave at the end of the season if he doesn't win anything with Roma and beyond a miracle comeback over Juventus in Serie A, 2016-17 is set to be another season full of what ifs.
Goals from Lazio's Sergei Milinkovic-Savic and Ciro Immobile were enough to put their hated city rivals out of the competition though goals from Stephan El Shaarawy and Mohamed Salah (who bagged two tap-ins) gave the scoreline a more respectable look in stoppage time. Yet this courageous collective performance will be filed next to Lyon in the pile of failed comebacks.
Roma will have to content themselves with trying to keep hold of second place in the league and rebuild, yet again, with the Champions League money that follows.
It's a sign of Roma's team spirit that they kept coming despite being down and out pretty much from the moment Milinkovic-Savic scored Lazio's first in the 37th minute. With xooler heads, they could have even had Lazio worried about the outcome. The problem is that Roma need too many chances to score and are always good for a mistake at the back. Having the stadium rocking with the passionate support Romanisti have been famous for was also great to see.
Just as they looked like putting Lazio under pressure, Roma left a gaping hole for Immobile to charge through and roll home the decisive goal. But worse that was a first half wasted with continuous aimless punts towards Dzeko and crosses (42 of them!) from terrible angles.
Manager rating out of 10
5 -- Spalletti started with a back four rather than the back three that he usually deploys, but despite that formation featuring three players in behind an anonymous Edin Dzeko, Roma couldn't strike the first blow as they struggled to break Lazio down until it was too late.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Allison, 6 -- Nothing he could do about Lazio's opener after making a fine save to deny Immobile.
DF Antonio Rudiger, 6 -- Managed to leave a motorway for Immobile to run into and score. A shame as just like Manolas, he was otherwise pretty good.
DF Kostas Manolas, 7 -- Unlucky to be beaten in the air by Immobile before the Italian's shot rolled to Milinkovic-Savic. Otherwise solid.
DF Juan Jesus, 6 -- Very nervy on the ball but all in all, he was fairly stable. Subbed at half-time so the more buccaneering Brino Peres could take Rudiger's right-back spot.
DF Emerson Palmieri, 6 -- Couldn't find his range with his shooting or crossing but was a stable presence on the left defensively.
MF Leandro Paredes, 6 -- Made very little impression on the game until the second half, just like most of his teammates.
MF Kevin Strootman, 7 -- Grew into the game like Paredes and once he got going, he had Lazio midfield in his pocket. But it wasn't enough.
MF Mohamed Salah, 7 -- Was on hand to keep the tie alive just as it looked dead and buried. However missed another great chance and cuts inside way too often.
MF Radja Nainggolan, 6 -- His fine last minute strike rolled to Salah for his second, but other than that struggled to create anything as the de facto No. 10.
MF Stephan El Shaarawy, 7 -- Took his goal brilliantly and was very unlucky to strike the post just before Salah tapped in. A threat.
FW Edin Dzeko, 5 -- Missed a glorious chance early on and it only got worse from there. Tied up all day by Lazio's well-organised defence and had very little to work with.
DF Bruno Peres, 4 -- Constantly out of position and didn't get past Salah once to swing a cross in from the byline. No dribbling, no creativity.
MF Diego Perotti, NR -- Caused problems with his dribbling but was another player cursed with a sub-par final ball.
MF Francesco Totti, NR -- Given 10 minutes to create the most romantic of comebacks, the legendary No. 10 never found his rhythm.
Terry is based in Rome and is ESPN FC's AS Roma blogger. Twitter: @T_Daley