ROME (Reuters) – Beleaguered AS Roma coach Eusebio Di Francesco was handed a lifeline as his side twice fought back from behind to beat Genoa 3-2 in Serie A on Sunday.
Italian media had reported that the game was Di Francesco’s last chance to turn things around after a five-match winless run in all competitions. Federico Fazio and Justin Kluivert responded to goals from Serie A top scorer Krzysztof Piatek and Oscar Hiljemark in the first half before Bryan Cristante grabbed the winner amid fan protests at the Stadio Olimpico.
“I have to compliment the team for managing to play in a really surreal atmosphere,” Di Francesco told Sky Italia.
“It was not easy, you can see we are still a team that is ‘ill’ in a way, so we’ve certainly had better performances, but we’ll take the three points.”
There was an air of tension before kick-off as the home fans booed their own players on to the pitch before an eerie silence fell over the ground as they refused to sing for the opening 10 minutes in protest at club President James Pallotta.
The atmosphere soured further when Robin Olsen allowed Hiljemark’s shot to squirm through his legs for Piatek to tap in after 17 minutes, but Roma drew level through Fazio’s low finish.
Parity lasted two minutes before Hiljemark restored Genoa’s lead, finishing at the back post from Sandro’s nod-on at a corner, but Kluivert showed great pace to sprint through the Genoa defence and fire the hosts level with the last kick of the first half.
Olsen’s blushes were spared when Darko Lazovic’s tame shot again wriggled through the goalkeeper’s grasp, only for a VAR review to disallow the goal for offside in the build-up, before Cristante drilled the winner past Ionut Radu on the hour mark.
The result lifted Roma back into sixth place on 24 points while 16th-placed Genoa have now gone 11 league matches without a victory.
(Reporting by Alasdair Mackenzie, editing by Ed Osmond)