“Whatever you can do, I can do better,” seems to be the sentiment coming from AS Roma manager Claudio Ranieri.
The Giallorossi maintained their slender lead at the top of the Serie A table thanks to a derby day victory over Lazio. Two goals from Montenegro striker Mirko Vucinic were just enough to earn his side a 2-1 win but for 50 minutes it seemed as if Roma’s title challenge was slipping away.
Tommaso Rocchi had given the hosts an early lead and they looked to be putting the game beyond their city rivals when they were awarded a penalty early in the second half. Julio Sergio’s excellent save proved to be the turning point in the match – and possibly the season – as Vucinic went on to level from the spot at the other end before blasting a free-kick into the top corner soon after.
It was a nervy but essential response to Inter Milan who had laid down the gauntlet on Friday night, and briefly held top spot, after they dispatched ten-man Juventus 2-0 at the San Siro.
Despite Mohamed Sissoko seing red in the first half after picking up two bookings, Inter were made to wait for the breakthrough but when it arrived it was well worth it.
Maicon – currently the best right-back on planet Earth – gave the Nerazzurri the lead when he juggled the ball four times before arrowing a volley into the far corner of Gianluigi Buffon’s goal from 20 yards out. Troubled teenager Mario Balotelli then hit the woodwork before Samuel Eto’o made the points safe in injury time.
AC Milan’s title dreams are all over for another season, bar an extremely unlikely slump from the two leaders, following their sixth defeat of the campaign. Marco Boriello had given the Rossoneri the lead away at Sampdoria but second half strikes from Antonio Cassano and Giampaolo Pazzini extinguished all hope for Leonardo and his team.
And so, there were two.
Both Roma and Inter have home games this weekend but Ranieri’s side have the trickier fixture. Milan’s conquerors, Sampdoria, pitch up at the Stadio Olimpico for the evening game on Sunday and, as they currently sit in the final Champions League spot, they will out to scavenge as many points as they can get.
By then Inter may have resumed their position at the top of the table after playing relegation strugglers Atalanta at the San Siro the day before. A win is certainly expected but Inter’s erratic form means that nothing can be taken for granted.
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