Last-gasp Totti penalty sees Roma in semifinal against Lazio
MILAN (AP) — Francesco Totti converted a penalty deep into stoppage time to send Roma through to the Italian Cup semifinal against city rival Lazio with a narrow 2-1 win over second-division Cesena on Wednesday.
The 40-year-old forward scored in the seventh minute of added time after Cesena goalkeeper Federico Agliardi was harshly adjudged to have fouled Kevin Strootman. [restrict]
Midfielder Luca Garritano had canceled out striker Edin Dzeko’s 68th-minute opener for Roma.
“I think the penalty was obvious, really clear, Agliardi took down Strootman,” Totti said. “Today the win was the only thing that mattered. We were facing a team which doesn’t belong in Serie B, which was well organized, which played openly, without any fear.”
Roma faces Lazio over two legs. Both matches will be played at the Stadio Olimpico, which will also host the final.
“We hope to reach the final, we mustn’t think it’s a derby, but a semifinal like all the others,” Totti said. “We’ll try to do what we have to do.”
Juventus plays Napoli in the other semifinal.
Roma was made to suffer by a plucky Cesena side, which will rue its numerous missed opportunities in the first half.
“We had a great game. We matched Roma, it’s a pity we wasted chances,” Cesena coach Andrea Camplone said. “If we carry this spirit into the league I think we can easily save ourselves.”
It was at times hard to tell which side was battling relegation from the second division and which was fighting for the Serie A title.
“It’s maybe best if I don’t say anything,” Camplone said, referring to the penalty awarded. “Looking at it again, I can say that only the referee saw it, but obviously he felt it was a penalty.”
Cesena had several chances to take the lead, with Moussa Kone’s volley crashing off the near post in the 24th minute and, four minutes later, Roma’s Brazilian goalkeeper Alisson finger-tipping Alejandro Rodriguez’s header over the bar.
Alisson denied Rodriguez again shortly before halftime and Roma was booed off at the break.
Radja Nainggolan came on for defender Juan Jesus and had an immediate impact, forcing Agliardi into his first real save of the match.
Dzeko had three great chances shortly after the hour but fired two narrowly wide and saw the other saved.
Roma broke the deadlock with a great team move as Nainggolan sent through Stephan El Shaarawy, who rolled the ball across for Dzeko to slot into the bottom right corner.
The lead lasted just five minutes before Alisson came out to collect a long ball, tangled with teammate Kostas Manolas, and spilled it for the onrushing Garritano to drill into the back of the empty net.
Just as the match seemed to be heading into extra time, Agliardi clattered into Strootman and Roma’s talismanic captain fired the spot kick powerfully into the bottom left corner. [/restrict]