Roma relied on a Fabio Borini goal in the opening three minutes to squeeze a 1-0 victory away to Palermo.
Both sides had to recover from heavy defeats last week. Francesco Totti shook off a muscular problem to start, though Daniel Osvaldo, Maarten Stekelenburg and Marco Cassetti sat out bans. They joined the injured Rodrigo Taddei, Simone Perrotta, Juan, Miralem Pjanic and Nicolas Burdisso, so Simon Kjaer faced his former club. The Sicilians missed Giulio Migliaccio, Matias Silvestre and Armin Bacinovic, so the defence was revamped and Eran Zahavi was preferred to Josip Ilicic.
It took just over two minutes to break the deadlock, as Ezequiel Munoz misplaced his clearance, so Erik Lamela threaded through for Fabio Borini to spring the offside trap and place a low ball past Emiliano Viviano at the near post. The Palermo defence was caught very square on that pass through the middle.
Zahavi’s angled drive flashed across the face of goal with Igor Budan just unable to get the final touch. Borini almost got a second, as he was close to redirecting a Jose Angel low cross-shot to the back post.
Bogdan Lobont flapped a looping Federico Balzaretti cross-shot out from under the crossbar, but Roma were dominating possession. Lamela burst past Afriyie Acquah and held off Munoz to force a save from Viviano at the near stick.
There was a nasty clash of heads that left Massimo Donati with a large lump on his forehead. Lobont flapped a Miccoli chipped cross away before it could loop over him into the net.
Just before half-time defender Andrea Mantovani hit a screamer on the half-volley that Lobont flapped out from under the bar. Roma struggled to clear their lines from the corner until Zahavi fired low at the goalkeeper. Edgar Barreto also aimed it straight down Lobont’s chest.
Palermo were sorely lacking pace, so introduced Abel Hernandez and Ilicic for Budan and Zahavi. Roma went on the counter with a Lamela slalom that finished with his shot on the side-netting, but at the other end substitute Ilicic forced Lobont to parry with his own solo effort.
A spectacular Hernandez control and spin on the volley whistled just wide. It should’ve been 1-1 on the hour mark, but Balzaretti horribly scuffed his shot from a chipped Miccoli cross from six yards. Donati and Lamela both blasted over, while Borini squirmed between defenders to hit the side-netting with a fierce rising strike.
Moments later Palermo wanted a straight red card for the Gabriel Heinze foul on Hernandez, but he was only booked, as it was too far away to be a clear scoring opportunity.
Lobont fumbled a cross and Miccoli smashed the follow-up straight at the goalkeeper’s body, as the Sicilians took control. Miccoli’s free kick was cleared with great difficulty and Ilicic slipped as he tried to dribble into the box.
Hernandez drilled wide, but Borini set up Totti’s weak shot at Viviano on the counter. Miccoli’s strike was delfected out for a corner by the Heinze diving tackle, from which Lobont palmed a fierce Munoz effort out from under the bar.
Marquinho drilled just wide with a daisy-cutter of an angled drive, but Palermo kept pushing. A corner whipped across the face of goal, then Munoz and Franco Vazquez had their shots charged down in the chaotic Roma penalty area. It had turned into a siege on the Giallorossi box in stoppages, but Luis Enrique's men hung on.
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