The Capital club and current second place holders Roma traveled South to Palermo for a Saturday matinee with the Rosanero. The game started quick and fierce as Palermo took hold of the match on two minutes when Franco Vasquez intercepted a poor pass from Davide Astori and played a wonderful through ball to who other than Paulo Dybala. Dybala beat Roma keeper Morgan De Sanctis on the near post for his tenth goal of the season. The wonderful start to the match had the Rosanero faithful energized and the team continued to feed off of that throughout the first half. The lead would have been doubled had it not been for the quick reflexes of De Sanctis. Captain Edgar Barreto took a well struck header aimed at the top corner, but it wasn’t meant to be as De Sanctis did well to get a hand onto it. The first half had been an excellent show that saw the Sicilians head to the locker room with a one-nil lead.
Just as fast as Palermo had started the first half off, Roma matched in the second. The Gaillorossi had put on the full pitch press and went into all-out attack mode knowing they needed three points to keep pace in the title race with Juventus. The Munoz-less Palermo defense had been doing well containing the Roma counters and applying strong pressure, not allowing Roma to register a shot on goal until the 53rd minute. The lack of shots on goal did not mean much as all Roma needed was a weak free kick opportunity, a controversial non-offside call and a tap-in by outcast Mattia Destro. The life seemed to be sucked out of Palermo with the match now level and a very difficult call by the line judge that broke in Roma’s favor.
The Giallorossi continued to push forward to find a winner. Primavera player Daniele Verde made his senior team debut as a substitute. Francesco Totti made a cameo appearance with ten minutes to go as Rudi Garcia made his final move for the winning goal.
Giuseppe Iachini countered Garcia’s moves with his own, putting on ‘Il Gallo” Andrea Belotti in hopes of stealing the win, and that is what should have been the headline. Late in the match, Michel Morganella played a wonderful through ball over the top to Belotti who ran it down, but the linesman had waved his flag for offside. This was Palermo’s shot at collecting all three points and they were arguably stolen by some unfortunate calls. Replays showed that Belotti’s arm (a non-scoring body part) was a head of the last defender and per reports by Sky Sports, this should had not been an offside offense. It’s hard to know if Belotti would have finished alone on goal or even if Palermo would have held on, but the lingering questions are what hurts Rosanero fans the most. Nevertheless, a point earned is better than a no points at all and now Palermo turns their attention to an impressive Sampdoria side.