Roma were left wondering just what had happened as their 1-1 draw with AC Milan finished with a bang. Both Tammy Abraham and Alexis Saelemakers scored injury-time goals to ensure the two teams shared crucial points in the battle for Champions League qualification.
Roma, missing Chris Smalling through a thigh injury and Georginio Wijnaldum with a muscle injury, had the opportunity to move into fourth with a win at the Stadio Olimpico.
AC Milan, who held a six-game unbeaten streak going into the crucial match, would move into third with an away victory. The stakes were high, and the Serie A clash was suitably intense.
Injuries left their mark on the match
Roma’s exciting young center-back Marash Kumbulla sustained a knock just 15 minutes into the game after colliding with Olivier Giroud. Milan’s Fikayo Tomori limped off the pitch at half-time too after reporting an intense thigh pain. Meanwhile, Andrea Belotti was visibly uncomfortable after he took a blow to the ribs.
The physicality did lead to some exciting moments. The best chance of the half nearly resulted in a goal when Lorenzo Pellegrini caught Milan keeper Mike Maignan off-guard. Tammy Abraham was on hand to inadvertently block his teammate’s shot, preventing what looked a certain goal.
Although Roma controlled most of the possession in the second-half, AC Milan had clearly upped their work-rate. Not only were they passing the ball quicker, they were outrunning the hosts.
Both teams traded chances and fouls. Players like Abraham, Simon Kjær, and young Italian midfielder Edoardo Bove, all required help from the physio at varying point in the match.
Roma were left stunned by injury-time chaos
Roma’s big break came in the 94th minute. Zeki Celik took the ball from Sandro Tonali to lead Roma into a dangerous attacking position. After cutting inside, Celik laid the ball off to Abraham, who cleanly slotted the ball past Maignan into the bottom left corner. The 40,000 home fans erupted in celebration as Roma’s Champions League dreams were becoming a reality.
What happened next will be a real hammer blow to the Giallorossi. Belgian winger Saelemakers would leave his mark on the result.
After Portuguese winger Rafael Leao collected the ball on the wing, he noticed Saelemakers unmarked. The result was a powerful, curling cross that landing on the Belgian’s right foot.
With possibly the last kick of the entire game, Saelemakers stole a vital away draw for the Rossoneri. The result keeps AC Milan in the best position for a top-four finish.
Champions League qualification race will continue
This result means the battle for an ever-elusive Champions League place is still on. Both sides still have big tests to come. AC Milan face Lazio and Roma will play Inter next Saturday. Inter, resting in sixth place, are not too far behind both Roma and Milan. The battle for a spot in the Champions League is still on and shows no signs of calming down.
Photo credit: IMAGO / Independent Photo Agency
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