Derby della Capitale – Rome derbies are always heated, and often memorable, affairs. Rarely, however, has there been so much gravitas attached to meeting between Lazio and Roma than there was on Sunday afternoon.
Lazio entered the match with a healthy four point lead at the top of the Serie A table while their rivals were languishing in mid-table, in desperate need of a win to continue their recent revival. While all of the pre-match discussion was focused on the absence of Francesco Totti, many Roma fans were quietly happy that their captain would miss the game after a series of poor performances.
Despite the suspension of Lazio’s antagonist, there was plenty of controversy at the Stadio Olimpico. Roma triumphed over their rivals 2-0 with both goals coming from the penalty spot. Lazio were rightly aggrieved at having not been awarded one themselves when John Arne Riise tossed Stefano Mauri to the ground.
Roma were the better side in the first half and were unfortunate not to lead at half-time. Leandro Greco, brought on as a substitute for the injured Jeremy Menez, thought he had given Roma the lead but his finish was ruled out for offside.
The Giallorossi did not have to wait long for the chance to take the lead in the second half.
Brazilian midfielder Fabio Simplicio’s goalbound shot ricocheted off Stephan Lichtsteiner’s arm, forcing the referee to award a penalty. The Swiss international was left writhing in pain from the force of Simplicio’s drive. Understandable then, that no Lazio players appealed the decision.
Marco Borriello dispatched the penalty with more than a little luck. The ball squirmed under Fernando Muslera’s torso to the delight of Roma’s fans in the Curva Sud.
Simplicio almost doubled Roma’s lead with just over ten minutes to go. The summer signing latched on to a loose ball in the penalty area and looked certain to score. Instead his first time attempt struck the crossbar and Lazio survived.
The missed chance might have proven to be a pivotal moment had Lazio been awarded a penalty moments later. A goalmouth scramble developed in the Roma penalty area before the ball spun across the face of Julio Sergio’s goal. Stefano Mauri was there to meet it but became entangled with John Arne Riise at the back post. Mauri was brought to the ground and Lazio’s players immediately swarmed around the referee. A penalty should have been given. Despite their protests, Lazio had at least one player offside in the build up to the goal.
The feeling of injustice appeared to drive them on. Lazio dominated Roma in the final ten minutes. Their failure to capitalise was punished by Roma with three minutes to go.
Julio Baptista, a target of abuse for many Roma fans, brought the ball into the penalty area before being tripped by the outstretched leg of André Días. The in-form Mirko Vucinic was given the responsibility of taking his side’s second penalty of the game. The Montenegrin has developed a reputation for producing fine performances in ‘the big games’ and was the man for the occasion once again as he fired to Muslera’s right to seal Roma’s victory.
Vucinic’s penalty sparked understandably wild celebrations at the Curva Sud. The striker himself removed his shirt to reveal a message dedicating the goal to his new-born son, Aleksandar.
The two born and bred Giallorossi on the field, Daniele De Rossi and Leandro Greco, showed the importance of the result to Romanisti in the Eternal City. In a typical display of extreme passion, De Rossi clambered to the top of the pitchside gate of the Curva Sud to celebrate with Roma’s ultras.
The victory lifts Roma into contention in the top-half of the table for the first time this season. For Lazio, the defeat could prove costly if they are to stage a Scudetto charge.
AC Milan capitalised (pardon the pun) on events at the Stadio Olimpico by beating Bari 3-2, in the process overtaking Internazionale.
Juventus and Alessandro Del Piero continued their recent good form by beating Cesena 3-1.
Fiorentina 1-0 Chievo
Bari 2-3 AC Milan
Juventus 3-1 Cesena
Lazio 0-2 Roma
Napoli 2-0 Parma
Sampdoria 0-0 Catania
Udinese 1-1 Cagliari
Palermo 1-0 Genoa