Il Tempo (Alessandro Austini) Roma-Austria Vienna: how to ruin everything in 2 minutes and dive back into a familiar tunnel. Roma took 3 steps forward and then as many back, giving away another lead – the 4th already this season – in a game that was virtually over against a modest team like Austria Vienna. In the 82nd minute they were 3-1 up, Spalletti was making substitutions with Palermo in mind (even though he brought on two first teamers in Salah and Dzeko, as well as Palmieri) and then, in the 84th minute, without even realising it, they found themselves level – just as they do in the group, which they lead together with the Austrians.
This is a team who are able to effortlessly score 3 goals against anyone but who are also able to concede that many too (we’re already up to 18 goals conceded in 14 official games), and to do so with the speed of a basketball game. The European fixture against Bayer Leverkusen last season is just one of many examples. They failed to pass the famous test of how to be a great side again – it’s much easier to stay focused when you’re facing Inter and Napoli than to try and find some enthusiasm for a Europa League game against Austria Vienna. But those are the moments when a team shows their winning mentality, and at the moment Roma don’t have that. The correct punishment will be having to fight for qualification from the group until the last game, when a win yesterday would virtually have sealed it.
And yet, even after a bad start, they seemed to have got back on track. “I need to be more ruthless in front of goal,” El Shaarawy said. He scored twice, Florenzi got one, Gerson made one assist, and the other two came from Totti in his 100th European game for the Giallorossi, who showed that even at 40 he can still enjoy himself in this competition. But if we’re already used to seeing those sort of balls from the captain, the pass from the Brazilian for Roma’s equaliser was the first signal of quality from a player who the club have placed a lot of faith in.
After 16 minutes of nothing – aside from a good shot from Florenzi – Roma found themselves behind, thanks to Holzhauser whose goal brought an explosion of noise from the Viennese fans. But when Gerson and El Shaarawy combined for a second time, Roma quickly equalised. An exchange between Florenzi and Totti sent il Faraone through on goal again to score his second – the last time he scored a brace was 8 months ago against Empoli, and he was applauded for it by the captain.
In the second half the Giallorossi scored the goal that seemed to have won the game when the two Romans combined again. At that point, Salah was also on the pitch, and Spalletti then introduced Palmieri who went to the right hand side. When Dzeko came on for Iturbe, who had another inconsistent game, it was at that point that the nightmare started. First, Prokop was given the freedom to take a shot to make it 3-2, then Alisson was too passive in dealing with a cross into the box, Manolas went to sleep and Kayode unbelievably made it 3-3 to send the Viennese fans into ecstasy. On 3rd November, the teams will face each other again in Austria, but in the meantime the Giallorossi have a trio of fixtures that are anything but simple: Palermo and two away trips to Empoli and Sassuolo will be the umpteenth tests of a maturity for a team that need a wake up call.