Miralem Pjanic’s contender for goal of the season and a Gervinho tap-in saw Roma crush Milan 2-0 for their ninth straight victory.
The Giallorossi needed a win to keep the Scudetto race alive, but Mehdi Benatia, Kevin Strootman, Federico Balzaretti and the suspended Mattia Destro missed out. The Rossoneri had won five on the bounce and welcomed back Keisuke Honda from injury, but Michael Essien replaced the banned Nigel De Jong.
Milan’s last win in this fixture was a 3-2 thriller in October 2011. Ricky Kaka pounced on a poor Dodo pass to go on the counter, but his shot was charged down in the box by Daniele De Rossi.
Daniele Bonera’s very long-range strike did not surprise Morgan De Sanctis, then Adem Ljajic’s effort was deflected and from the resulting corner there were timid appeals for an Adil Rami handling offence before Dodo blasted a half-volley over the bar.
Ljajic went on a slalom through the Milan defence until his finish was eventually deflected out for a corner by Rami’s decisive sliding tackle.
Balotelli couldn’t get his shot away after running on to a misplaced pass, while De Rossi blasted over from a short corner. The hosts were increasingly in control and dominated possession in the first half.
The breakthrough eventually arrived with a magnificent solo effort from Pjanic. The Bosnian midfielder gathered in the final third to dribble past three players and then stroke the finish past Christian Abbiati with the inside of his right foot into the near bottom corner. It was a fantastic goal from 24-year-old Pjanic, who nutmegged one of the defenders along the way.
After the restart Kaka pulled back for Riccardo Montolivo to drill just wide from the edge of the box, then Adel Taarabt’s attempt was charged down.
Totti rolled a free kick across to Pjanic, whose strike was heading under the bar before a flying Abbiati save. The Bosnian international also saw a powerful effort accidentally hit teammate Ljajic.
Roma appeared to be in total control and made that possession count with a well-worked goal. A series of passes eventually came to Francesco Totti, whose shot was beaten away by Abbiati into the path of Gervinho to bundle over from a couple of yards. Replays suggest the Ivorian was slightly offside.
Balotelli was disappointing, irritable and petulant, so he was substituted by Giampaolo Pazzini and seemed unhappy with Clarence Seedorf’s decision. Radja Nainggolan received a booking and will be suspended against Catania next week.
Kaka’s free kick was straight into the wall and De Sanctis took the sting out of a swerving Montolivo effort. The Roma goalkeeper also got behind two Taarabt snapshots, as Milan tried to make the scoreline less heavy in the final minutes.
There was concern for Roma in stoppages, as Rafael Toloi badly sprained his ankle from an awful Robinho challenge and had to leave the pitch, as the substitutions had been completed. Robinho was fortunate not to get carded for that tackle.