Serie A - Roma wasteful but earn victory
Roma hung on to a 2-1 win at home to Lecce in Serie A, but it should have been so much more for the home side in an entertaining game marked by some bad misses from Bojan and a wrongly-disallowed wonder-goal by Pablo Osvaldo.
Goals from Miralem Pjanic and Fernando Gago put the capital club 2-0 up at the Stadio Olimpico, but Lecce’s on-loan Roma striker Andrea Bertolacci pulled one back with one of their few chances in a game the hosts dominated.
Roma should have been out of sight by that point but they were hanging on in the end.
Bojan spurned a hatful of chances, including an early candidate for miss of the decade, while Argentine-born Italy striker Osvaldo had a quite sublime bicycle kick incorrectly ruled out for offside, robbing him and the world of one of the all-time great goals.
The victory puts Roma fifth in the standings, while Lecce stay in the bottom three.
The home side were comfortable favourites - their only league defeat against Lecce came in 1986, a loss which denied them the Scudetto that season.
As expected, Roma utterly bossed the first half hour, with Lecce barely getting a touch as they tried to hold back the swarm of red and white, unable to show their usual pace on the counter-attack.
Much of the home side’s joy came from the left, with Rodrigo Taddei in swashbuckling form as he pinged in a range of crosses that Lecce were unable to deal with - and his team-mates unable to convert.
Pjanic missed one straightforward chance on 14 minutes, scuffing Taddei’s low ball into former team-mate Julio Sergio’s arms, while another Taddei centre was just a fraction too quick for Bojan sliding in.
Eventually someone did connect, and it could not have been an easier finish for Pjanic, who smashed the ball into the roof of an open net after Taddei combined with Daniele De Rossi.
With Roma ahead it was surely only a matter of time before they got a second but somehow Bojan fluffed a near-identical chance from three yards, completely mis-kicking in front of an open goal after Taddei laid it on a plate. For some reason the Spain forward elected to finish with the outside of his right boot, when any touch with his left or even the instep of his right would have been a goal.
It was an early candidate for miss of the season and Lecce almost made them pay when Daniele Corvia’s cut back was all set for Juan Cuadrado to finish: he was denied by a saving block from Gago.
That came just after a bad injury to Lecce defender Moris Carrozzieri, hauled off on a stretcher after colliding with his own goalkeeper.
Lecce were seeing a bit more of the ball - the possession percentage at the end of the half was ‘only’ 70-30 - but were unable to do much with it, despite a couple of the promising breaks for which they are renowned.
The second half started brightly for Roma and they doubled their lead when Gago fired in a swerving, bouncing drive that fooled Sergio and nestled inside the left-hand post.
The floodgates seemed to have opened as the hosts battered Lecce, Erik Lamela putting the ball wide when a sublime touch put him one-on-one, Osvaldo denied by a smart stop from the Brazilian keeper and Bojan again fluffing his lines when he poked over from 10 yards.
Against the run of play, and all the odds, Lecce pulled one back: Simon Kjaer, who was hit-and-miss at the back all night, was responsible for a failed offside trap that Bertolacci exploited before clipping a neat finish over the previously untested Maarten Stekelenburg.
Lecce sensed a shock and, having remembered how to counter attack, could have levelled straight from the restart when Cuadrado hoofed over after good work from Bertolacci.
Roma were still creating chances, but Bojan - known for suffering confidence issues during his time at Barcelona - put in his now customary miss when he again fired over from 10 yards after Sergio parried Taddei’s finish into his path.
It was Bojan’s last act as his former Barcelona colleague Luis Henrique hauled him off immediately afterwards, the young striker clearly angry with himself as he stormed to the bench.
Roma were almost made to pay for their profligacy too, Cuadrado’s low fizzing drive tipped behind by Stekelenburg, the linesman missing the touch to award a goal kick.
If that piece of officiating was weak then what followed at the other end was unforgivable when, on 75 minutes, Osvaldo connected with a wonderful, goal-of-the-season scissors kick that flew past Sergio into the net.
But the player and the game were cruelly denied Osvaldo's brilliance by a rogue flag from a linesman who either failed to see the defender playing him two yards onside, or failed to comprehend the basic rules of active and passive offside (a Roma player had briefly strayed off but was not involved in the phase of play).
Given the flag was not raised until after Osvaldo connected, the assumption must be that he was wrongly viewed as having strayed himself.
The blunder would have had greater consequence had Bertolacci connected with Massimo Oddo’s late cross, but the forward barely moved as the centre flew wide of the goal.
Roma retreated into their shells in the closing stages, running the ball into the corner as they held on for a deserved victory.