Roma stun table-toppers AC Milan to reopen Scudetto race
Roma’s 1-0 victory at the San Siro on Saturday brought an end to AC Milan’s seven game unbeaten run and blew the Serie A title chase wide open.
It was Milan’s third home defeat of the season and it left their lead at the summit of the table at just six points having played a game more than their three closest rivals.
Roma manager Claudio Ranieri said the three points were vital to his side’s title challenge after a victory which leaves them in fifth-place and seven points from the top.
“Definitely a victory against first place means a lot,” said Ranieri. “If we had lost the psychological effect would have been devastating, winning keeps us alive [in the title race].”
The opening exchanges saw the skilful Robinho test a Roma defence which has leaked 20 league goals in 17 matches. The Brazilian international drifted into the box and evaded Philippe Mexes’s challenge before releasing a delicate shot which grazed Doni’s right post.
Milan’s best opportunity of the match fell to the prolific Zlatan Ibrahimovic. The forward, on loan from Barcelona, burst free of an otherwise watchful Roma rearguard and approached goalkeeper Alexander Doni head-on in the area. But the Sweden international was indecisive at the crucial moment and attempted a lob which failed to gain the required elevation and instead drifted safely into the palms of the Roma shot-stopper.
And it was a careless blunder which was punished by former Milan star Marco Borriello in the second half. The 28-year-old had left the San Siro stadium in the summer after struggling to retain a regular slot in Milan’s first team.
Jeremy Menez broke to the right-hand by-line and delivered a low cross which eventually fell to Borriello, whose shot ricocheted past the helpless Christian Abbiati. It proved decisive as Milan failed to rescue a point despite the introduction of Brazilian star Ronaldinho.
After the match Roma’s Menez highlighted the importance of the victory and insisted Roma can still win their first title since 2001.
“We have a good team,” said the French winger. “Before the break it is a very important victory. I feel the confidence of all, we have a lot of potential and we are able to win the Scudetto.”
And manager Ranieri added: “We felt the presence of our away fans and the three points came. I’m happy for them, we gave a piece of joy and now our fans will have a nice Christmas.”
“We must also commend Doni, who made a big save in the first half when he came face-to-face with Ibrahimovic.”