Hernandez ruins new owners' Roma party
Abel Hernandez struck twice in the last six minutes as Palermo ruined a big day for Roma after the sale of the Eternal City club to foreign investors, beating the home side 3-2.
The kick-off at the Stadio Olimpico came just 16 hours after Thomas DiBenedetto led an American consortium in buying the majority holding in the Giallorossi - the first time in Serie A history that a major club had fallen into foreign hands. And the hosts started well on the pitch with captain Francesco Totti putting them in front in the 20th minute from the penalty spot.
Mauricio Pinilla levelled with a penalty before half-time and after the Romans missed a hatful of chances in the second half, Hernandez made them pay with two goals. Substitute Mirko Vucinic reduced the arrears with seconds remaining but Roma endured a setback that has further damaged their chances of a top-four finish.
Roma are now in sixth place, four points behind city rivals Lazio, who are fourth and hold the last UEFA Champions League qualifying spot. Lazio visit Catania tomorrow. Palermo, who had lost six of their last eight games, celebrated their first win since the return of coach Delio Rossi to the Rosaneri hotseat.
The game started at a fast pace with the Palermo players demanding a penalty when Pinilla went down inside the area. Roma defender Nicolas Burdisso was close to Pinilla but referee Andrea Romeo waved play on.
The hosts almost went in front in the fifth minute. Palermo goalkeeper Salvatore Sirigu did well to parry John Arne Riise's bullet strike but it dropped to Jeremy Menez whose shot from close range was off target. Roma continued to dominate possession and were given a helping hand when the referee pointed to the penalty spot after Armin Bacinovic had brought down Menez inside the area. Totti coolly struck past Sirigu and into the bottom right corner.
Before the half-hour mark, Hernandez's 30-yard effort almost stunned Roma goalkeeper Alexander Doni but the ball went just over the bar. Palermo earned a penalty in the 43rd minute after Burdisso fouled Pinilla inside the area and the Chilean striker made no mistake.
Roma could have made it 2-1 shortly after the re-start. Totti fed an unmarked Menez inside the area and his left-footed strike from eight yards went inches wide of the far post. On the hour mark, a fast break from Roma saw Menez get past Sirigu before serving Vucinic who should have scored easily but hit the ball over the bar. At the other end, Pinilla's header from a corner went wide.
Roma pressed forward but struggled to beat a well-drilled Palermo defence and it was the visitors who went in front in the 84th minute. A fast break down the right flank saw Pinilla serve Hernandez and he fired past Doni from eight yards.
Hernandez put the game beyond Roma's reach in the 90th minute. Pinilla again found Hernandez inside the area and his left-footed strike found the back of the net. Vucinic gave Roma a lifeline in the last minute with a bullet strike from just outside the area but time ran out on the Giallorossi as DiBenedetto's era began with a defeat.