Palermo leapfrog Roma with impressive home victory...
Palermo signalled their Champions League intentions with this impressive 3-1 win over a lacklustre Roma.
Fabrizio Miccoli fired his side in front in the first half, and Josip Ilicic and Antonio Nocerino added similar second half strikes to hand their side all three points and ensure they would move ahead of tonight's opponents and into sixth place.
Roma had the better of the early exchanges and came close to opening the scoring in the third minute when John Arne Riise unleashed a trademark left-footed thunderbolt which Salvatore Sirigu did well to block.
Giallorossi talisman Francesco Totti almost caught Sirigu out with a free-kick which caught in the swirling wind but the ball drifted just beyond the far post to the Palermo goalkeeper’s obvious relief.
Sirigu was anything but fortunate in the 13th minute when he stuck out a leg to stop Jeremy Menez’s powerful angled drive.
While Roma were obviously dominating possession, the home side looked to content to let them have it and hit on the counter attack.
And it was from one of these counters that the Rosanero took the lead in the 20th minute. Ilicic picked the ball up in his own half and drifted past three players before feeding Federico Balzaretti. The left-back lost possession but Nocerino picked up the loose ball and picked out Ilicic’s run with a delightful angled pass. Ilicic then drilled the ball to Miccoli, who took a touch before rifling a left footed shot into the net.
The visitors had a chance for an immediate riposte but Marco Borriello fired a low free-kick straight at Sirigu.
Palermo started to see more of the ball at this stage, with Javier Pastore, Ilicic and Miccoli’s fluid movement and snappy interchanges in and around the box causing the Romans problems.
Yet the better chances continued to fall to the Giallorossi. Totti dragged a shot wide and had a powerful effort well saved by Sirigu, while Menez and David Pizarro both failed to find the net as Palermo held on to take a one-goal lead into the second half.
If the first 45 was dominated by Roma, then the second 45 was all Palermo as they added two further goals to secure the win.
Pastore almost made it two in the 49th minute. The in demand attacking midfielder waltzed past a few desperate challenges and shaped to shoot, but Julio Sergio was alert to the danger and raced from his line to smother the Argentinian’s side-footed effort.
The goal eventually arrived in the 61st minute when Ilicic swept home Balzaretti’s cut-back at the near post to grab the goal his performance merited.
The result was put beyond doubt four minutes later. Cesare Bovo burst forward from the edge of his own box, passed left to Pastore and collected the return before firing across the face of goal for the in-rushing Nocerino to side-foot into the net.
Ilicic came close to doubling his own personal tally in the 76th minute with a powerful drive, but Julio Sergio flew to his right to push the ball away and keep the score semi-respectable.
The earlier two-goal salvo had taken the wind out of Roma’s sails and a series of desperate attempts on goal in the final ten minutes came to nothing.
Totti did manage to net an injury time consolation when he thundered an angled drive beyond Sirigu in the 92nd minute, but the night belonged to Palermo.
Both sides face tricky away fixtures next week as they look to stay in touch at the top. Roma journey north to meet Chievo in Verona on Saturday, while Palermo travel to southern rivals Napoli on Monday evening.