MATCH REPORT: ROMA 1-2 AC MILAN, 10-MEN MILAN CLAIM A HARD FOUGHT WIN OVER ROMA TO REMAIN SECOND ON THE TABLE

An inconsistent side hosted 2nd-placed with three crucial points up for grabs.

The home side made a fast start, Vina racing down the left and cutting the ball back to Pellegrini who poked his shot narrowly wide within three minutes. On the other side, Kessie dragged a shot wide from just outside penalty area. Pellegrini had another good chance 10 minutes later but scuffed his strike.

 

Ultimately, it took the 40-year-old Swede for the Rossoneri to open the scoring. Ibrahimovic drilled a free-kick from around 20 yards, under the wall and past a stranded Rui Patricio. It was the striker’s second goal of the season (third if one counts the own goal).

 

Milan thought they had a quick second after Leao took Ibrahimovic’s chest down past Patricio before heading into the net. However, the Swede was adjudged offside and the score remained 1-0. Roma were trying their best to string together meaningful passages of play in their final third but it was not easy going and Patricio had to make a smart save from Hernandez’s free-kick. Despite having the lion’s share of possession and numerous half chances, Jose Mourinho’s side found themselves trailing at the break.

 

The second half started with Roma on the ball once again, but it was Ibrahimovic who thought he had added to his goal tally. A simple ball over the top found the run of the striker who controlled with his chest before slotting a finish across Patricio and into the net but was offside again. However, he was soon the centre of attention as Ibanez was called for impeding the run of Ibrahimovic inside the box. The referee’s pointed straight to the spot and Kessie stepped up to put Milan 2-0 up.

 

The match got another twist just past the hour mark. Hernandez, who had already been booked, clumsily brought down Pellegrini who was looking to make inroads past the defence, and was promptly shown a second yellow. Despite that Roma were struggling to generate clear cut chances, Zaniolo shooting straight at Tatarusanu from distance. The Romanian goalkeeper made another sharp save from Mancini’s shot as the game entered injury time.

 

El Shaarawy finally scored for Roma in 90+4th minute, blasting home after cross broke to him near the penalty spot. Perez tried bending one past Tatarusanu but was denied and that was that as Milan held on for their ninth win of the season.

Here are the key takeaways from the match:

ROMA’S INCONSISTENCY SHOWS UP

The Giallorossi failed to close the gap to the top three, remaining 12 points adrift of league leaders Napoli. Roma dominated the ball and went forward regularly but a combination of poor finishing combined with excellent defending from Milan meant that they were also the one step short. On the other side, the backline had its hand full dealing with Ibrahimovic who was dragging them around. The first goal was just a clever piece of improvisation that totally caught them out while Ibanez was squarely at fault for the penalty.

 

Even with a man advantage, Roma could not draw level as the damage was already done and the pressure on Mourinho to turn around some average performances remains. It does look like the team is suffering from tiredness, given how frequently the same players have played but there is no other option after the manager highlighted the gulf in class between the first team players and others.

 

MILAN STAY WINNING

10 wins and one draw from 11 games mean Stefano Piolo’s side only trail Napoli on goal difference. Milan have started the season as they finished the last, hungry from more and making a point of their title credentials every time they take the pitch. The defence has been rock solid, with the pair of Tomori and Kjaer excelling alongside the fullbacks.

 

Even with key players in Ante Rebic and Brahim Diaz absent, the midfield has shown no signs of slowing down while Ibrahimovic showed that age is just a number. He was heavily involved in both goals, single handedly making an impact like he has done so many times before. Even after going down to 10 men, the team stayed solid and were able to see the win, even after conceding late once, through on the back of rigid compactness.

 

SERIE A RACE HEATING UP

With almost one-third of the season gone, the race for the title is closer than it has been years. Napoli and Milan have set the early pace, still remaining undefeated while Inter are seven points behind in third. Behind them is a logjam of teams from fourth to 10th separated by four points with Juventus placed 9th. Both the joint top teas are well placed to win this time but things can hardly be called right now as the new year is coming soon.

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