With their hopes of Europa League progression hanging on by a thread, Roma secured a vital win this evening, defeating HJK Helsinki 2-1 in Finland.
The victory puts Jose Mourinho's side level on 7 points with Ludogorets in Group C—setting up a "win and advance" scenario next week when they host the Bulgarian side in the Italian capital.
As for tonight's affair, it began in usual Roma fashion, with the team determined to put supporters through another cardiovascular rollercoaster.
Helsinki nearly took an early lead less than five minutes into the game.
Veteran defender Chris Smalling made a brilliant last-ditch block on Helsinki midfielder David Browne before Rui Patricio was called into action on a subsequent set piece.
Not long thereafter, the hosts pulled-off a double goal-line clearance from Lorenzo Pellegrini and Matias Vina, miraculously preventing the Giallorossi from taking the lead.
In the 28th minute, midfielder Bryan Cristante found the back of the net and headed home from an in-swinging corner delivery from Lorenzo Pellegrini.
But VAR determined youngster Cristian Volpato was offsides and interfering with play, nullifying the goal and keeping the affair scoreless.
However, Roma's persistence finally paid off just minutes before half-time thanks to another set piece.
Captain Lorenzo Pellegrini delivered a perfectly-placed lofted free-kick into the area before Tammy Abraham headed home to give Roma a 1-0 lead.
It marked the Englishman's first goal in nearly two months, his last coming 12 September versus Empoli.
Their lead, however, was short lived as the hosts drew level less than ten minutes after half time.
Former Chievo Verona man Perparim Hetemaj was the goalscorer after his ambitious attempt from outside the penalty area went beyond the reach of Rui Patricio.
Though, Roma were quick to respond and regained the lead eight minutes later in the 62nd minute.
Stephan El Shaarawy delivered a dangerous cross towards the path of Tammy Abraham but the ball connected with Helsinki's Arttu Hoskonen, who put it past his goalkeeper Conor Hazard for an own goal.
Appearing content to see the game out by sitting deep, Roma's approach nearly went out the window when Helsinki's David Browne scored a stunner in the 80th minute.
However, the Giallorossi caught a huge break after the goal was chalked-off due to Bryan Cristante having been fouled in the build-up.
The decision allowed Roma to secure all three points while giving new life to their odds of advancing to the knockouts.
|41'||K. Tamaraebi |
(Assist: Lorenzo Pellegrini)
(Assist: Malik Abubakari)