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Juventus Stay Strong While AC Milan And The Rome Clubs Share Spoils: Serie A Gameweek 31 Wrap

Spoils shared in Rome derby
Spoils shared in Rome derby

Normally Sunday night is the date for the Derby della Capitale between Roma and Lazio, but not this edition. Nonetheless, the Monday night encounter between these two fierce rivals produced more drama and entertainment as always.

Before the match, there were confirmed reports of two fans getting stabbed when both sides’ ultras clashed near the stadium. The intensity shown in that incident symbolised just how important this derby was on Monday evening. Both teams were separated by three points. A point for Lazio would’ve seen them leapfrog Inter for the last Europa League spot, but if Roma won, they’d be level with both clubs on 50 points.

The Biancocelesti started off the first half with the better chances. Antonio Candreva recorded the first troubling shot for goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg. Fortunately for the Dutch international, he was able to parry it over the bar. Not much time passed after the next opportunity for Lazio, and unlike the Candreva effort, they’d capitalize. Hernanes smashed the ball from distance and scored in the top left corner of the goal, leaving Stekelenburg helpless on 16 minutes.

Moments later, Lazio continued to threaten with Hernanes involved again, this time linking up with Senad Lulic. The Bosnian raced onto the end of a delicate through ball from his teammate only to see Stekelenburg get down quickly to save his effort comfortably.

Then it was time for Stek’s counterpart Federico Marchetti to shine. Roma got a few shots late in the interval, including one from Francesco Totti, but the Italian international was on hand to deal with the swerving ball as Lazio headed into the break with a one goal lead.

The second half picked up where the first left off with Lazio continuing to mount the pressure. Just four minutes in, Marquinhos was adjudged to have handled the ball in his own penalty area, gifting the sky blues with a penalty. Hernanes stepped up to get his brace, but missed wide. Hernanes, who has shown remarkable form this season, even earning a couple of call-ups to Luis Felipe Scolari’s Brazil squad. However things would go from bad to worse for the Brazilian playmaker.

Just past the hour mark, Hernanes took down Miralem Pjanic in his own penalty area. Francesco Totti buried it past Marchetti. It was Totti’s ninth career goal in Serie A against Lazio, equalling the records of former greats like Dino Da Costa and Marco Delvecchio. No player has more tallies against the Cugini, and Totti is that much closer to breaking yet another milestone.

A red card in the Rome derby is as common as Totti scoring a penalty, and both happened in this game. Lazio’s Giuseppe Biava brought down Marquinhos, the would-be goat if Hernanes had doubled the lead for the visitors, and was shown his second yellow card in the 69th minute. Just six minutes before the sending off, Biava entered the referee’s book for the first time. His terrible display of discipline might’ve cost his team the match.

Fortunately, lady luck appeared to be on Lazio’s side. Late in the game, Erik Lamela had a header attempt from a yard away from goal, but instead of claiming all three points for the Giallorossi, he sent the attempt above the bar. Roma had 14 shots in the match, but once again couldn’t finish their chances.

Other talking points

  • 24 hours before the derby, one of the teams contending for the Europa League places in Inter played. They lost 4-3 to Atalanta at the San Siro. The Nerazzurri were up 3-1 as late as the 65th minute, but then referee Andrea Gervasconi awarded a penalty on Walter Samuel for what he called a handball. Replays showed that there might not have been any infringement of any kind, but that didn’t stop German Denis from getting a second half hat-trick to clinch the victory for the visitors.
  • More refereeing mistakes were seen in Fiorentina versus AC Milan. That finished 2-2, but after a questionable red card for Nenad Tomovic after he elbowed Stephan El Shaarawy in the first half. However Adem Ljajic drew a penalty when Antonio Nocerino tugged his shirt, but looked a bit soft. After Ljajic buried that attempt from the spot, Juan Cuadrado won another PK which Ljajic also scored.
  • Napoli got a straightforward 2-0 victory over Genoa at the San Paolo on Sunday. Goran Pandev and Blerim Dzemaili exposed some poor defending from the Grifone, but Edinson Cavani is the one who can hang his head in shame. He missed another penalty, which is the ninth attempt out of 18 in Serie A that the Partenopei have failed to score.
  • Juventus won 2-1 at home against Pescara, but if it wasn’t for Ivan Pelizzoli’s 11 saves, it could’ve been a double digit victory for the Bianconeri. Nonetheless, they remain nine points clear at the top of the Serie A table with seven games left.
  • Antonio Di Natale continues to defy age, getting his 16th and 17th goals of the season in Udinese’s 3-1 win versus Chievo. He’s now second in the Capocannoniere race, one ahead of El Shaarawy and five back of Cavani.
  • For the first time all season, Palermo recorded back-to-back victories and a win away from home. They confidently defeated Sampdoria 3-1, which puts the Rosanero level on points with 17th place Siena and 19th place Genoa.

Other results: Bologna 2-2 Torino; Catania 0-0 Cagliari; Siena 0-0 Parma