STADIO OLIMPICO (Rome): Paulo Dybala appeared from the bench in the second half to help lift AS Roma to a disappointing 1-1 draw at home to Torino on Sunday afternoon, bringing 2022 to an underwhelming close. With the Matchday 15 results, Serie A goes on a near two-month break until after the 2022 World Cup, which the Curva Sud expressed their objection to during the game.
Roma were poor from the very start and were lucky not to trail in the first half, though that is without Toro having done all that much to deserve a lead themselves. That lead came somewhat out of the blue when Karol Linetty rose to head in a Wilfried Singo cross from the right to stun the home fans into silence.
Tammy Abraham had a horrid night leading their line and was loudly booed when he was taken off deep into the second half. Dybala, on in his place, lifted the roof off the Olimpico. And he changed the game. Within a minute of coming on he had a shot saved, and then won a penalty in stoppage time as he was chopped down in the area. With Dybala still limping from the impact of the foul, Andrea Belotti stepped up and hit the outside of the post against his former club.
But Dybala’s work wasn’t done. Deep into stoppage time he weaved his way infield from the right of the box, he whipped a near-perfect shot that looked destined for the top corner but crashed back off the crossbar. Fortunately for Jose Mourinho – sent off by this point – it landed at Nemanja Matic’s feet and he rifled in low from the edge of the area to level things up.
Mou’s got work to do
Jose Mourinho saw red on the night for protesting a little too much, but it’s easy to understand the Portuguese’s frustration on the night. Roma were incapable of stringing passes together for 70 minutes, and only showed any signs of getting back into the game when Dybala had come on and the ball was at his feet.
Their midfield looked amateurish, and Tammy Abraham looked as though he had already lost all of the confidence that his goal against Sassuolo in midweek had given him and like his omission from England’s World Cup squad was the most pressing thought on his mind.
Beyond watching his team produce a turgid performance, Mourinho and the entirety of the Stadio Olimpico found themselves growing frustrated with Antonio Rapuano’s officiating. Every 50-50 appeared to go Toro’s way, and it was for protesting that very point – with the Granata awarded a foul after Roma had been denied an almost-identical call seconds earlier – that got Mourinho sent off.
With almost two months now until Roma are back in action again, Mourinho is going to have a lot of work to do in the mid-season break to get this team up to scratch. Otherwise, they will not be bothering the Champions League places.