Last-gasp Lukaku fires Roma to comeback win over Lecce

AFP , Sunday 5 Nov 2023

Romelu Lukaku fired Roma to a stunning 2-1 win over Lecce on Sunday with a stoppage-time strike which completed an unlikely late comeback and sent his team into next weekend's Rome derby in positive mood.

Roma s Romelu Lukaku controls the ball, during the Italian Serie A soccer match between AS Roma and US Lecce, at Stadio Olimpico, in Rome, Sunday, Nov. 5, 2023. (Alfredo Falcone/LaPresse via AP)


Jose Mourinho's Roma looked set for a shock defeat at the Stadio Olimpico when Pontus Almqvist netted Lecce's opener in the 71st minute.

But Iran striker Sardar Azmoun pulled the hosts level in the 91st minute with a bullet header -- his first goal in Serie A -- and Lukaku brought the house down three minutes later with a rifled finish.

"It was a crazy match which could have gone either way. It went in our favour," said Mourinho to DAZN.

Lukaku's winner was redemption as he would have bore the brunt of the blame for a defeat after missing a sixth-minute penalty and another golden opportunity eight minutes after the break.

The Belgium striker, who had a difficult return to Inter Milan last weekend, charged to the stands where he was hailed for a late winner which moved Roma above Lazio.

Roma are eighth on 17 points, four points away from the Champions League spots and one ahead of Lazio who lost at Bologna on Friday.

Mourinho was also cheered by the return of Paulo Dybala, who laid on Lukaku's ninth Roma goal in all competitions since he signed on loan from Chelsea in late August.

Dybala could easily have finished the game with a brace after a pair of sumptuous strikes in each half blazed wide, and he looked in fine fettle after recovering from a knee ligament injury.

"Paulo is obviously important for us," said Mourinho.

"I've just spoken to him and while I thought he would say it would be better to stay here, not travel (to Slavia Prague in the Europa League) and prepare for next weekend, he told me that he wants to come with us."

Lecce are 11th after losing four and drawing two of their last six league matches.

Roma are level on points with Fiorentina who host Juventus in Sunday's late match, which home fans demanded be postponed following the serious damage wrought across Tuscany by Storm Ciaran.

Floods and fallen trees have brought chaos and Italian authorities declared a state of emergency on Friday as weather specialists reported record rainfall.

Fiorentina's hardcore supporters announced on Saturday that they would not attend what is traditionally the biggest match of their season in protest at the decision to allow the fixture to take place.

Second-placed Juve will cut the gap between themselves and leaders Inter Milan to two points with a win in Florence.

Cagliari moved out of the relegation zone with their second straight win, 2-1 against fellow promoted outfit Genoa.

Coach Claudio Ranieri was crucial to the Sardinians taking 17th place as it was his two half-time substitutes Nicolas Viola and Gabriele Zappa who scored the second-half goals which secured the three points.

Cagliari sit a point ahead of Verona who are just inside the relegation zone after falling to a 3-1 home defeat at the hands of Monza.

(For more sports news and updates, follow Ahram Online Sports on Twitter at @AO_Sports and on Facebook at AhramOnlineSports.)

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