Cometh the hour, cometh Roma’s King. Francesco Totti has done it again, converting an injury time penalty to help Roma overcome the stubborn resistance of Sampdoria. With his goal, Totti continued a run of netting in every Serie A season since 1994-95.
While the Giallorossi were indebted to Totti holding his nerve from the spot, they also had Mother Nature to thank.
All seemed to be going to plan when Mohamed Salah opened the scoring after only eight minutes. But nobody told Sampdoria. A fantastic Luis Muriel volley levelled the score, while Fabio Quagliarella turned the ball home from a corner to give Marco Giampaolo’s team the lead.
By that point, four minutes before half-time, a deluge had hit Rome’s Stadio Olimpico. The rain pelted down as boos rang around the stadium at the half-time whistle, with Roma perhaps lucky to only be a goal down. The jeers subsided, but the rain did not. Such was the ferocity the second half was delayed by 90 minutes. Football was unplayable on a sodden surface.
It worked to Roma’s benefit. Totti and Edin Dzeko were introduced once the action got back underway and it was a totally different game. Dzeko got the equaliser just past the hour mark and were it not for Samp goalkeeper Emiliano Viviano, Roma would have cruised to victory.
Sampdoria hotly contested the penalty decision, to no avail. Milan Skriniar was adjudged to have brought down Dzeko. Up stepped Totti. “I thought he would miss the penalty,” Roma President James Pallotta said. “I thought this because it was wet. I wouldn’t have had any worry if it had been dry.” Totti sent the impressive Viviano the wrong way to secure the points.
Alessandro Florenzi said the break helped Roma refocus. “We got it into our heads that we needed to go back out with intensity, which was what changed the match.” Conversely, Muriel says the long delay punished Sampdoria, who had looked the better side in the first half. “The break was not good for us, Roma came back out on the pitch better.”
Roma must use this victory to push forward. They got out of jail and after the Champions League exit, begin their Europa League campaign against Viktoria Plzen this week. They still have hopes of toppling Juventus to secure the Scudetto, but must improve a defence which was leakier than some sections of the Olimpico. Totti, and the rain, cannot always bail them out of a jam.