Roma crashed out of the Coppa Italia after an astonishing 4-2 defeat to Spezia in extra time, with two players shipped off within 30 seconds, with so many substitutes, meaning they would have lost anyway.
Borja Mayoral pounced on a defensive misunderstanding in the opening 30 seconds but fired over the counter from a tricky angle.
However, while the contact was minimal, a penalty for Bryan Cristante’s trip on Giulio Maggiore was awarded to Spezia. Andrij Galabinov made his first start on October 4 after a serious injury and picked up right where he left off by hitting the net from the spot.
Riccardo Saponara made his first start for Spezia and marked it with a 2-0 goal. Marash Kumbulla gave the ball away cheaply on the edge of their penalty area and Saponara curled to the far top of the corner.
Lorenzo Pellegrini fired wide and Leonardo Spinazzola’s angled drive flashed across the face of goal until the goalkeeper palmed away a vicious Pellegrini strike.
Titas Krapikas also got down quickly to parry a Pedro effort, but Ardian Ismajli clumsily bundled into Pellegrini’s back for a penalty. Pellegrini himself converted it to get Roma back into the tie before half-time.
Roma started the second half solidly when Borja Mayoral attempted a daring back-heel flick and missed Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s assist, but wasted a golden opportunity.
Borja Mayoral managed a truly incredible error at 67 minutes when Pedro rolled it out, had an open target to aim at, and ballooned over from seven yards.
Mkhitaryan completed the 2-0 to 2-2 comeback when he burst into the box after a give-and-go with Mayoral, lofting the lob over Krapikas for a sleek finish.
It was almost 3-2 moments later when Rick Karsdorp’s wayward volley took a double deflection off Pedro and Mayoral to go over the bar.
Alessandro Deiola drilled deep and on the end of a Mkhitaryan ball, Mayoral just failed to get across the face of goal again. It looked like Roma would avoid the extra time when Borja Mayoral intercepted a shocking back-pass at the 86th minute, and the goalkeeper came running out, but amazingly he fired wide of the target.
Pau Lopez flies to parry a shot by Roberto Piccoli, but the teams are forced to save time. In stoppages, too, Spezia almost won it. Curiously, the last time Roma went into extra time in the Coppa Italia was also against Spezia in 2015-16.
Edin Dzeko was finally replaced by Mayoral, but as Gianluca Mancini got a second yellow card, Roma quickly went down to 10 guys.
Incredibly, 30 seconds after that, Pau Lopez came running off his line, totally mistimed it, and clattered Piccoli outside the penalty box for a straight red card. Roma went from 11 men to nine in under a minute. He was injured by Antonio Mirante, so Daniel Fuzato had to come over to get his gloves.
Saponara’s header looped over and on Maggiore’s ball, Fuzato made a fingertip save from the edge of the area.
As a Cristian Dell’Orco cross drifted into the top corner of the header for ex-Roma youth brand Daniele Verde, Spezia gradually reclaimed its lead over nine players.
In the final minute, Saponara made sure, spotting Fuzato off his line to score from outside the box with a delightful lob.
In the story, there was one more amazing twist. RAI Sport proposed that Roma make six substitutes instead of five, which was not allowed even in extra time so that they would lose the game 3-0 anyway.