Zaniolo denied late winner as Roma draw with Genoa

AFP , Saturday 5 Feb 2022

Nicolo Zaniolo was denied late glory for Roma on Saturday after what looked to be a dramatic stoppage-time winner against Genoa was ruled out after a VAR check in a goalless draw.

Roma s Italian midfielder Nicolo Zaniolo (C) fights for the ball with Genoa s Belgian defender Zinho Vanheusden (R) during the Italian Serie A football match between AS Roma and Genoa at The Stadio Olimpico in Rome, on February 5, 2022. AFP

Zaniolo, considered one of Italy's most talented players, crashed home a powerful low finish from the edge of the area in the 91st minute at the Stadio Olimpico and then charged towards the wildly celebrating home supporters.

However the fans' cheers turned to jeers when Tammy Abraham was judged to have fouled Johan Vasquez in the build-up to the goal after an on-field review, leaving Roma's slim hopes of Champions League football next season hanging by a thread.

Zaniolo, 22, was then sent off for his protests at the decision and had to be held back by Jose Mourinho after the final whistle.

A disappointing point at the Stadio Olimpico left Mourinho's side four points away from the top four having played two games more than fourth-placed Atalanta ahead of their home clash with Cagliari early on Sunday afternoon.

They dominated the play as expected but failed to create much against a Genoa team which was well-drilled by new coach Alexander Blessin but stays second-from-bottom and four points from safety.

Not even Leo Ostigard receiving a straight red card with just over 20 minutes remaining helped Roma break through a wall of defenders, as Genoa closed ranks even further and picked up a second draw from two matches under Blessin.

Roma are also three points away from fifth-placed Juventus, who host Verona on Sunday night with new boy Dusan Vlahovic set to make his debut for the 36-time Italian champions.

On Saturday Juve coach Massimiliano Allegri said Vlahovic, who co-leads the Serie A scoring charts with 17 goals, is one of the best centre-forwards in the world, "alongside (Erling) Haaland and (Kylian) Mbappe".

The weekend's biggest match takes place on Saturday evening, with a Milan derby between two teams chasing the title.

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