Roma coach Luciano Spalletti paid tribute to Francesco Totti after the forward provided the “dazzling finale” to a crucial victory on Wednesday, as the Giallorossi captain scored twice in the final five minutes to deliver a 3-2 victory over Torino.
With five minutes remaining at the Stadio Olimpico and the home side trailing 2-1, Spalletti used his final substitution of the match to introduced Totti to proceedings. And it took just 22 seconds for the No. 10 to make his presence felt – as he poked home from close range to grab a dramatic equaliser.
But just two minutes later it got even better, as the captain fired home from the penalty spot to deliver a hugely-important victory for his side.
The result means Roma are back within five points of Napoli in the race for second in Serie A, while Inter Milan’s defeat elsewhere on the night means the Giallorossi now have a seven-point advantage on Roberto Mancini’s side with four games remaining.
“It was a crucial victory in a game that featured a marvellous story and a dazzling finale,” Spalletti said.
“I hoped he [Totti] wasn't going to take the free-kick that led to the goal for 2-2, because he has a knack of getting himself in the right position. I saw him stretching to strike home and the explosion from the stadium was amazing.
“He did what I asked him to do the other day too, he's got that in his locker. He's a vital resource for us, managing it isn't easy but there are times when I need him on the pitch.”
Speaking further about Totti, the coach noted that the No. 10 gives his side a double boost when he comes on at home – his technical ability lifting the team, and his relationship with supporters ensuring a rousing atmosphere inside the Olimpico.
“Totti is the perfect player for a situation like this evening, when the team is dominating play and he's got the ability to turn the game,” he added.
“When Totti is on the pitch, it's not just the players who receive an incredible boost but the entire stadium, which becomes the Olimpico we know it can be.
“From my point of view, I need to take into account factors like stamina, but in situations like these against teams that are shutting up shop, there's no better player than Totti.”
On the game in general, Spalletti noted that the team seemed to struggle initially in the wake of successive draws in recent weeks – but that the victory will now give them a huge amount of confidence.
“It was a difficult game for us coming off the back of two draws,” he said. “In terms of character and mental strength, we showed that we weren't at top form, but turning the match on its head like we did this evening will restore some spirit and magic that our team needs.
“We have a quality side that has to play with energy and enthusiasm.”