Radja Nainggolan’s screamer and a Wojciech Szczesny penalty save on M’Baye Niang gave Roma victory over Milan and second place.
These two sides were locked together in second place, so the winner would emerge as Scudetto contender to leaders Juventus. Kevin Strootman won an emergency appeal against his two-match ban and was therefore available, but Francesco Totti, Mohamed Salah, Leandro Paredes and Alessandro Florenzi missed out. The visitors had to completely transform their midfield, losing Giacomo Bonaventura, Carlos Bacca, Riccardo Montolivo, Davide Calabria and suspended Juraj Kucka. Ex-Roma man Andrea Bertolacci got his first appearance since sustaining a thigh injury in August.
Milan have now won just one of their last 13 visits to the Stadio Olimpico in all competition, a 3-2 thriller in October 2011, along with six draws and six defeats.
After 90 seconds Gigio Donnarumma had to make his first save, gloves stung by an Edin Dzeko rocket at the near post. The Rossoneri had a great chance on the counter with Gianluca Lapadula sliding in inches away from getting the touch to a Suso assist.
The hosts largely kept the initiative and put together a series of corners, while Vincenzo Montella’s men focused on the counter-attack.
It almost paid off when Lapadula ran on to a through ball and prodded it as Wojciech Szczesny took his ankles away for an inevitable penalty. M’Baye Niang stepped up, but saw his spot-kick saved for the second game running, as Szczesny made up for his earlier error. The Frenchman has taken seven penalties between Serie A and Ligue 1, failing to convert four of them.
Suddenly the momentum changed, as Milan poured forward and Roma tried to go on the counter, Dzeko smashing his angled drive inches past the far post.
Bad news for Roma, because Bruno Peres sprained his left ankle, needing to be stretchered off in tears. He was replaced by ex-Milan star Stephan El Shaarawy.
Mario Pasalic fired off target from an Andrea Bertolacci assist, as Montella’s men continued to have the better of the game in the second half.
Diego Perotti blasted over from a corner, but Roma took the lead when Radja Nainggolan cut in from the right and unleashed a left-foot scorcher from outside the D.
Suddenly the momentum switched again and the Giallorossi felt more confident, as Dzeko robbed Gabriel Paletta and forced a save at the near post, but the final stages were truly end to end stuff at a furious tempo.
Suso created a chance for Mati Fernandez, but the finish was too close to Szczesny at the near stick. This result puts Roma four points off leaders Juventus and visiting Turin this coming weekend.
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