AS Roma coach Luciano Spalletti's job is looking a lot safer following his team's stunning 3-1 victory over 10-man Chelsea in the UEFA Champions League at the Stadio Olimpico.
Roma gave themselves a Group A lifeline with the victory that moves them up to second, just a point behind the Londoners. Defeat would have almost certainly signalled the end of their European ambitions but the struggling Romans picked the right moment to rediscover their form against the English Premier League leaders.
Roma have lost six of their nine Serie A matches this term and sit one point and one place above the relegation zone. But a goal from Christian Panucci and a brace from Mirko Vucinic will have done wonders to their fragile confidence. Chelsea captain John Terry scored a consolation but the Blues finished with ten men after Deco was shown two yellow cards.
Chelsea started well and Portugal midfielder Deco forced Brazilian goalkeeper Doni into making a smart save on 10 minutes from a skidding long range strike. Roma, though, hit back four minutes later as Vucinic looped a volley onto the roof of the net but the visitors were having the better of things.
Deco let fly again from distance before Frank Lampard also tried his luck with a dipping, swerving effort from outside the area; both times Doni stood firm and pushed the ball out for a corner.
Then on 34 minutes the hosts took the lead after some sloppy defending from the Blues. Roma took a quick free-kick, giving the ball to Brazilian right-back Cicinho who got the byline and sent a low cross into the box. Astonishingly Chelsea's players all stood still like stone statues and watched as Panucci strolled into the middle of the six yard box and tapped the ball home unmolested.
Chelsea had one more first half chance on the break but France winger Florent Malouda wasted his breakaway by thrashing a woeful shot high and wide.
Luiz Felipe Scolari wasted no time in changing things around bringing on Didier Drogba and Juliano Belletti at half-time with the ineffectual Malouda and Joe Cole making way. However, just three minutes after the restart Roma doubled their advantage after neat inter-play between captain Francesco Totti and Matteo Brighi before Vucinic lashed an unstoppable shot past Peter Cech.
Jon Obi bested
Ten minutes later things got even worse for a strangely out of sorts Chelsea. John Obi Mikel lost the ball to Vucinic midway inside the Roma half but there was no-one behind him. The Montenegro striker set off for goal with Obi in hot pursuit but the Nigerian midfielder then dived in on Vucinic instead of shepherding him wide, allowing the forward to skip around him and finish with aplomb inside Cech's near post.
Chelsea's consolation came 15 minutes from time when the Roma defence tried to do an impression of the visitors' ball watchers from the first goal. Deco crossed from the left and the ball hit Terry, who was standing six yards out, in the chest, sending the ball goalwards.
Doni made a smart reaction save but the ball again fell to Terry, who was still enjoying the freedom of Rome and slotted home.