Roma crashed out of the Coppa Italia after an astonishing 4-2 defeat to Spezia in extra time, with two men sent off within 30 seconds, and too many substitutions, meaning they’d have lost anyway.
The winners of this tie will go on to face Napoli in the quarter-final on January 27.
The Giallorossi needed a boost after their embarrassing 3-0 defeat to rivals Lazio in Serie A on Friday evening, while Spezia held out with 10 men for over 80 minutes in a 0-0 draw with Torino. Curiously, Roma and Spezia will face off again in Serie A this weekend.
Borja Mayoral pounced on a defensive misunderstanding in the opening 30 seconds, but fired over the bar from a tricky angle.
However, Spezia were awarded a penalty for Bryan Cristante’s trip on Giulio Maggiore, although contact was minimal. Andrij Galabinov made his first start since a serious injury on October 4 and picked up right where he left off, by finding the net from the spot.
Riccardo Saponara made his first start for Spezia and he marked it with a goal for 2-0. Marash Kumbulla gave the ball away cheaply on the edge of their own penalty area and Saponara curled into the far top corner.
Lorenzo Pellegrini fired wide and Leonardo Spinazzola’s angled drive flashed across the face of goal before the goalkeeper palmed away a ferocious Pellegrini strike.
Titas Krapikas also got down quickly to parry a Pedro effort, but Ardian Ismajli clumsily bundled into the back of Pellegrini for a penalty. Pellegrini converted it himself to get Roma back into the tie before half-time.
Roma started the second half strong, but horribly wasted a golden opportunity when Borja Mayoral tried an audacious back-heel flick and missed Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s assist.
Borja Mayoral managed a truly extraordinary miss on 67 minutes, as Pedro rolled it across, he had an open goal to aim at and ballooned over from seven yards.
Mkhitaryan completed the comeback from 2-0 to 2-2, as he burst into the box after a give-and-go with Mayoral, lofting the lob over on-rushing Krapikas for a stylish finish.
It was nearly 3-2 moments later, as Rick Karsdorp’s wayward volley took a double deflection off Pedro and Mayoral to go over the bar.
Alessandro Deiola drilled wide and Mayoral again just failed to get on the end of a Mkhitaryan ball across the face of goal.
It looked as if Roma would avoid extra time when Borja Mayoral intercepted a shocking back-pass at the 86th minute and the goalkeeper came flying out, but he incredibly fired wide of the target.
Spezia nearly won it in stoppages too, Pau Lopez flying to parry a Roberto Piccoli strike, but the teams are forced to extra time. Curiously, the last time Roma went to extra time in the Coppa Italia was also against Spezia in 2015-16.
Inevitably, Mayoral was replaced by Edin Dzeko, but Roma immediately went down to 10 men, as Gianluca Mancini received a second yellow card.
Incredibly, 30 seconds after that, Pau Lopez came flying off his line, completely mistimed it and clattered Piccoli outside the penalty area for a straight red card. Roma went from 11 men to nine in under a minute. Antonio Mirante was injured, so Daniel Fuzato had to come on and take the gloves.
Saponara’s header looped over and Fuzato made a fingertip save on Maggiore’s strike from the edge of the area.
Spezia eventually restored their lead against nine men, as a Cristian Dell’Orco cross was floated in for ex-Roma youth product Daniele Verde’s header into the top corner.
Saponara made absolutely sure in the final minute, spotting Fuzato off his line to score with a delightful lob from outside the box.
There was one more incredible twist in the tale. RAI Sport suggested Roma made six substitutions instead of five, which was not allowed even in extra time, so they would lose the game 3-0 regardless.
Roma 2-4 Spezia (aet)
Galabinov pen 6 (S), Saponara 15, 119 (S), Pellegrini pen 42 (R), Mkhitaryan 73 (R), Verde 107 (S)
Roma: Pau Lopez; Mancini, Cristante (Fuzato 95), Kumbulla; Peres, Pellegrini, Villar (Veretout 69), Spinazzola (Karsdorp 69); Pedro (Ibanez 95), Mkhitaryan (Carles Perez 85); Borja Mayoral (Dzeko 91)
Spezia: Krapikas; Vignali, Erlic, Ismajli, Ramos (Dell’Orco 68); Deiola (Acampora 80), Leo Sena (Ricci 68), Maggiore; Agudelo (Verde 59), Galabinov (Piccoli 68), Saponara
Sent off: Mancini 93 (R), Pau Lopez 94 (R)
“Two Roma players have been sent off in a matter of seconds! Would you believe it?!”
Just two mins into extra-time, chaos at Stadio Olimpico!
First Gianluca Mancini for a late challenge, before goalkeeper Pau Lopez completely misses the ball… #CoppaItalia pic.twitter.com/0VCMvNN8qa
— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) January 19, 2021