Roma’s hopes of qualifying for the Champions League diminished on Saturday as it surprisingly lost 2-1 at relegation-threatened Spal in Claudio Ranieri’s second match back as interim coach. A Mohamed Fares header and an Andrea Petagna penalty secured Spal’s first win at home in six months. Diego Perotti had leveled from the spot.
“As I told the guys when I came in, now is the moment for them to prove they deserve what they earn, that they deserve to be at Roma,” Ranieri said. “Today we lost against a team of footballers who earn less and who are in dire straits. If Roma qualifies for the Champions League, there’s a plan, otherwise quite a few will get a change of scenery.”
Roma missed the chance to go level on points with fourth-place Inter Milan ahead of Sunday’s derby against third-place AC Milan. The top four in Serie A qualify for next season’s Champions League. Torino and Atalanta are three points behind Roma.
Spal moved four points clear of the relegation zone. “We played against a team and we weren’t a team,” Ranieri said. “We lost every duel on the field. They were the more determined. We need to play more as a team and improve on a physical and tactical level. We ran a lot too, but badly.”
Roma had narrowly beaten Empoli on Monday in Ranieri’s first match but it had a number of players missing through injury, while Alessandro Florenzi was suspended. Spal hadn’t won at the Stadio Paolo Mazza since September but took the lead in the 22nd minute when Fares headed in Manuel Lazzari’s cross. Ranieri made a double change at the break, introducing Diego Perotti and Nicolo Zaniolo, and they had an immediate effect.
Zaniolo, who had been struggling with a calf injury, threaded the ball though to Edin Dzeko, who was fouled by Thiago Cionek. Perotti converted the penalty, sending Spal goalkeeper Emiliano Viviano the wrong way.
However, Petagna won and scored a penalty of his own seven minutes later after he was shouldered over by Juan Jesus.
Fabio Quagliarella celebrated his first Italy call-up in four years with yet another Serie A goal to help Sampdoria win 5-3 at Sassuolo.
It was Quagliarella’s 21st league goal of the season, extending his personal record. The 36-year-old remained atop the scoring list with two more goals than Juventus’ Cristiano Ronaldo and Milan’s Krzysztof Piatek.
Quagliarella was named in Italy’s squad on Friday for upcoming European Championship qualifiers against Finland and Liechtenstein. Quagliarella was last named in a squad in 2015, and his last appearance in an Azzurri shirt was in 2010.
At Sassuolo, he set up the opener for teammate Gregoire Defrel in the 15th minute and got on the scoresheet himself in the 36th with a right-footed shot from just outside the area.
Jeremie Boga pulled one back for Sassuolo two minutes later but Karol Linetty immediately restored Samp’s two-goal advantage with help from Quagliarella in the buildup.
Quagliarella also set up Samp’s fourth, a volley from Denis Praet seconds after halftime, and Manolo Gabbiadini scored the fifth. Alfred Duncan and Khouma Babacar also scored for Sassuolo.
Torino missed the opportunity to move level on points with Roma as former coach Sinisa Mihajlovic guided relegation-threatened Bologna to a 3-2 win in a match where both teams ended with 10 men.
Bologna climbed out of the relegation zone with only its second league win since the start of December.
Bologna midfielder Erick Pulgar netted an early own goal. But he also converted a penalty in the first half following Soualiho Meite’s handball, shortly after substitute Andrea Poli had leveled.
Bologna had a goal ruled out in each half although Riccardo Orsolini extended the visitors’ advantage in the 65th minute.
Torino was given hope when Bologna defender Lyanco was sent off following a second yellow card three minutes from time and Armando Izzo headed in to reduce the deficit moments later.
But defender Ola Aina was sent off too shortly after, receiving a second yellow card for dissent.