Mattia Destro scored on his Roma comeback for an exhilarating 2-1 victory over Fiorentina, but Miralem Pjanic saw red.
Vincenzo Montella, David Pizarro and Alberto Aquilani returned to face their former club, while Francesco Totti was on the bench for the first time in over a month and Adem Ljajic took on the side he left this summer. Dodo stood in for the injured Federico Balzaretti, while David Pizarro was not fit to start.
The Viola were in fourth place going into this weekend and fresh from a 4-3 victory over Verona, whereas the Giallorossi were still second despite four consecutive stalemates. The Tuscans had lost 12 of their last 14 Serie A visits to Rome, not keeping a clean sheet here in 20 attempts.
Within the opening three minutes Juan Manuel Vargas had tested Morgan De Sanctis with a fierce volley, but it was Roma who took the lead.
Gervinho dribbled to the by-line, pulled back for Ljajic, but it was Douglas Maicon who managed to bundle over the line from point-blank range.
It was almost 2-0 moments later, as first Alessandro Florenzi’s effort was deflected on to the side-netting, then Neto fingeripped Daniele De Rossi’s header out from under the bar on the resulting corner.
De Rossi was decisive at the other end, deflecting a Giuseppe Rossi attempt off target from a couple of yards.
Gervinho wasted a golden opportunity one-on-one with Neto when he mis-kicked the ball sent through by Ljajic.
Fiorentina equalised soon after, as Nenad Tomovic pulled back from the by-line and Rossi missed it, but Vargas put his foot straight through it for a missile of a shot into the roof of the net. The Peruvian became only the second opponent to score past Roma at the Olimpico this season after Sassuolo’s Domenico Berardi.
Juan Cuadrado combined with Rossi only to volley over with the outside of the boot and Mehdi Benatia’s free header was also not far off target.
Straight after the restart, Rossi nodded a Borja Valero cross just over the bar, then a Manuel Pasqual pass flashed across the face of goal with Rossi and Alberto Aquilani unable to get the final touch in the six-yard box.
Neto beat away a Gervinho solo effort at the near post and Ljajic scuffed the follow-up. Mattia Destro came on for his first appearance of the season after a series of knee problems.
Cuadrado dribbled through the Roma defence and rolled in for Alberto Aquilani, who somehow scuffed it wide when clear on goal. Moments later Neto denied Ljajic at the near post, then as the move continued Kevin Strootman hit the upright with a low drive from 10 yards.
The Giallorossi were piling on the pressure, as Neto parried from Maicon and on the resulting corner Gervinho pulled back for Destro to tap in from six yards. His reaction to scoring on his comeback was clear for all to see, shaking off six months of injury woes and criticism for his first Serie A goal since May 19.
Fiorentina almost equalised a couple of minutes later, but De Sanctis flew for a one-handed save on Pasqual’s dipping free kick.
Mehdi Benatia’s looping header was just off target from a corner, while Joaquin fired straight at De Sanctis. Miralem Pjanic received a second yellow card in the final minutes for a misplaced challenge, so Destro had to come off for defensive midfielder Michael Bradley.
Leandro Castan’s last-gasp challenge blocked Rossi as he was shooting from six yards.
Sent off: Pjanic 88 (R)