Football: Zurich angry over Totti's late penalty

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FRANCESCO TOTTI scored a controversial last minute penalty to give Roma a 1-0 victory over FC Zurich in their Uefa Cup first leg match yesterday.

Totti hammered home his spot-kick after the Scottish referee William Young ruled the Italian striker had been tugged to the ground in the box by Zurich midfielder Franco Di Jorio. The decision looked harsh and the Swiss players argued vehemently with the official, while the Zurich coach, Raimondo Ponte, walked off to the changing rooms in disgust before the final whistle.

The decision was particularly tough on the visitors as they had at least had their fair share of chances in a largely uninspiring match.

Zurich striker Frederic Chassot could have given the visitors a goal with either of two clear cut chances while Roma, 2-0 conquerors of Italian champions Juventus 10 days ago, looked short of ideas.

Tuesday's match was the second in four days in which Totti and Roma have profited from a dubious penalty award.

The young Roma captain won a spot-kick late in their league match against Bari in the same stadium on Saturday when he was judged to have been pulled back as he headed for goal. He converted that penalty to salvage a 1-1 draw for Zdenek Zeman's side and then later admitted he had made a meal of the challenge.

"We had our fair shares of chances too," said Zeman when asked if he felt Roma had escaped with a fortunate win. "Maybe we didn't play too well but we certainly didn't deserve to lose."

Roma could have taken the lead through their midfielder Paulo Sergio midway through the first half after Marco Delvecchio set him up with a backheel. But the Brazilian fluffed his shot and Zurich launched an immediate counter-attack. Chassot beat the Roma offside trap but scooped his shot over the bar.

Roma lost their Italian international midfielder Luigi Di Biagio through injury after 28 minutes and he may miss the derby match against his former club Lazio this weekend.