Roma tore Milan to shreds with Erik Lamela’s brace, although they still managed to leak two goals in the final minutes for a thrilling 4-2 victory.
These sides had disastrous starts to the season, but are finding their feet towards the Christmas break. It was also a head-to-head for position, as only two points separated them going into the weekend.
Bojan Krkic, Philippe Mexes and Marco Amelia returned to face their former club, but Alexandre Pato, Bakaye Traore and Nigel De Jong were injured. Kevin-Prince Boateng was in the trident as a ‘False Nine.’ Leandro Castan sat out a ban and Marquinhos was on the treatment table for the Giallorossi, who had Erik Lamela back from the start.
Roma last won this fixture in 2008, followed by three draws and last season’s 3-2 defeat. Zdenek Zeman’s men saw a run of four straight victories ended in controversial fashion by Chievo last week, while the Rossoneri were still on their four-game winning streak.
It took Stephan El Shaarawy 41 seconds to drill just wide, while Daniele De Rossi fired straight at Amelia after a strong run. Milan tried one backheel too many, sparking a Roma counter-attack that saw Amelia fly to palm the Pablo Daniel Osvaldo shot over the bar.
From that corner, Nicolas Burdisso was allowed a header into the bottom near corner, giving Roma the lead. It confirmed Milan’s weakness when defending from set plays.
El Shaarawy sprung the offside trap on a Robinho through ball and tried to dribble round the goalkeeper, but Mauro Goicoechea did brilliantly to stand his ground and push it off his feet.
It was a wide open game and Roma doubled their advantage when Francesco Totti on the left flank curled a cross on to Osvaldo’s glancing header, as he once again rose above Mario Yepes.
The Giallorossi tore the Rossoneri defence to shreds and went 3-0 up by the half-hour. Kevin Constant’s poor clearance sparked a new move, so De Rossi put a wonderful disguised through ball to send Lamela through and the Argentine passed it over the stranded Amelia.
El Shaarawy had a shot charged down in the box, but Milan were simply stunned at the Stadio Olimpico.
Totti should’ve made it 4-0 straight after the restart, but his angled drive skimmed the base of the far post after Constant kept him onside.
Giampaolo Pazzini replaced Antonio Nocerino, returning Boateng to a deeper role. The visitors had more possession in this second half, but conceded a fourth when Federico Balzaretti floated a cross into the box for Lamela’s header from six yards.
Robinho forced Goicoechea into a flying save to palm away his curler, then Boateng’s follow-up was also smothered.
A Miralem Pjanic volley flashed wide, but Milan had a triple chance. Boateng’s first header was brilliantly parried by Goicoechea from point-blank range, his follow-up hit the post and substitute Bojan fired the rebound into the goalkeeper’s arms.
Bojan had the opportunity to get one back against his old club, but Goicoechea got fingertips to turn the angled drive just wide.
Pazzini blasted straight at the ‘keeper from distance, but Roma went down to 10 men after Marquinhos foolishly used his arm to block an El Shaarawy counter-attack and the referee saw it as a clear goal-scoring opportunity.
Sulley Muntari was in the wall and received a Pjanic missile of a free kick right in the face, sending him down and in need of treatment.
Milan did get a look-in for the final minutes, as Goicoechea spilled a Muntari strike and brought down Pazzini on the rebound. The goalkeeper received a yellow card, though it seemed more of a scoring opportunity than the Marquinhos dismissal. Pazzini got back up to convert by firing it down the middle.
Incredibly, moments later the Rossoneri made it 4-2, as Bojan turned in from the tightest of angles and suddenly the home crowd and their 10-man side were nervous. However, the fightback just came too late to turn things around.
Sent off: Marquinhos 78 (R)