A mistake-filled night looked destined to end in disappointment after Davy Klaassen put the Dutch side ahead, but Lorenzo Pellegrini had more than a slice of good fortune in levelling the scores before Roger Ibanez scored a stunning late winner.
Bryan Cristante forced Kjell Scherpen into action early on. The Italian ambitiously shot from range, and his well-hit effort had to be turned behind by the stretching Ajax goalkeeper.
But Roma were their own worst enemies as they fell behind. Amadou Diawara’s pass to Gianluca Mancini in their own half was underhit, and the defender was hesitant, backing away from the ball instead of going to meet it. Davy Klaassen intercepted and drove towards the Giallorossi box. There, he exchanged a clever one-two with Dusan Tadic that left him with an open goal to tap into.
Roma continued to do their best to lose the game in the second half. Pau Lopez dangerously gave the ball away but Ajax were unable to take advantage.
Then, Ibanez conceded a needless penalty. Pau Lopez expertly stood firm in the centre of his goal though, and Tadic’s central effort was easily palmed away by the Spaniard.
Rather sportingly, Ajax gifted Roma an equaliser. Lorenzo Pellegrini’s freekick somehow squirmed through Scherpen’s hands, despite him having had a good night until then, as he appeared to dive past the ball before fumbling it into his own goal.
Roma got a late winner from an unlikely source. A set piece ended up falling to Ibanez’s feet in the area and, with his best impression of a seasoned striker, the defender teed himself up to rifle a volley into the roof of the net.