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Italy - Serie A
April 25, 2014
• Stadio Olimpico, Roma
Referee: P. Tagliavento
• Attendance: 49792
M. Pjanić 43'
Y. Gervinho 65'
That's it from me, it's been a pleasure. Bye for now.
Juve will have to wait just that little bit more for their third straight Serie A title. Roma did the business at home, provisionally closing the gap at the top to five points. Goals from Gervinho and Pjanic did the damage to Milan and their European hopes. The Rossoneri were simply well beaten.
90' + 3'
90' + 2'
Toloi has to limp off to the sidelines, having not recovered from that Robinho challenge. He continues to hobble about, and will perhaps just ride the last few seconds out.
Into stoppage time here, and only two minutes to come. Robinho meanwhile gets away with a late lunge into the back of Toloi, but avoids any punishment when a red card would not have been out of the question!
PAZZINI! Not a bad opening! Milan work the ball from back to front, and the substitute latches onto it inside the area without a marker in sight. He still has to shoot fast though with De Sanctis closing down, and he whacks a half volley over the top!
TAARABT! Best chance in a LONG while for the visiting side. Robinho slips, then recovers his balance to slide in the former QPR man, but his low shot is right at De Sanctis, who saves easily.
Off goes Maicon, who has done an excellent job against Taarabt defensively, and accepts the ovation from the fans with good grace. On comes Torosidis.
Lovely scooped ball over the top from Pjanic nearly results in a chance for Ljajic, but he runs out of room before the byeline. Roma just killing this off now.
Ljajic's delivery in from the resulting set piece forces Abbiati into action, as he dives to tip the cross away from the onrushing Gervinho.
Rami is finally bettered by Gervinho, and pulls out a mechanical tug on the shoulder of the Ivorian, that sends him the to turf. Yellow card to come for the defender.
Yellow Card Adil Rami
Oh, good effort from Montolivo, who slices a half-volley towards goal from 25 yards out that is nevertheless caught with conviction by De Sanctis. The game starting to ebb away now.
Kaka tries to whip a ball in towards the far post, but De Rossi gets his head to it to put it out for a corner. That was more dangerous thatn it looked from the Brazilian, but the vice captain dealt with it.
Totti departs to his typical standing ovation from the Giallorossi faithful. He's not had his best game, but did what needed to be done. On comes Florenzi for the final stretch.
I have to say that Rami has been a bright spot at the back for Milan. He's read their attempts to put Gervinho in behind him well, and for the third time this evening, he gets to the ball before the streaking Ivorian can pull the trigger.
The excellent De Rossi wins the ball of Honda on the edge of the area. He's been absolutely superb so far, the Italian midfielder, breaking um play with impunity around his own box.
Yellow Card Radja Nainggolan
And indeed, that is the last action of the game for Balotelli, who is booed lustily by the home fans as he departs. On comes Pazzini for the final stretch. He's been shocking, I'm surprised the substitution took that long.
A free kick from Rami is way too far ahead of Balotelli at the far post. Visible signs of frustration from the striker. Milan better be careful, Roma could add to their tally here!
Yellow Card Francesco Totti
The Ivorian renaissance man notches his 12th goal of the season in Roma colours. He's already bettered his tally from his entire two-year Arsenal career. I can't see Milan getting back into this one, they've been toothless. And Abbiati should have done better from that initial Totti shot to boot.
That should just about do it! A swift attack from the home side sees Totti smack a shot off the palms of Abbiati, and Gervais is on hand to sneak in the rebound! Hints of an offside there but Roma get the benefit of the doubt.
GERVINHO MAKES IT TWO!
Roma are playing patiently, but it's clear that they're bossing things offensively. Totti's clip towards the far post is not quite won by Nainggolan, as Mexes gets the last touch, which allows Abbiati to smother.
Balotelli gives the ball away for the umpteenth time. It's been an absolutely tragic game for the striker. He's not exactly the type of character to pull himself up when things aren't going his way.
Ljajic embarks on his second weaving run of the game, as he takes on two players and carves his way through the pair. He loses control of the ball, however, before he can square up against Abbiati.
Milan by the way have made a substitution, the first change of the game. Off goes Muntari and on cones Essien in a rather like for like swap. Not sure how that helps the Rossoneri turn things up offensively, but there you go.
Nainggolan wins the ball excellently high up the field, and decides to take on impromptu creative duties as well. He tries to pick out Ljajic inside the area, but like Honda at the other end, the cross it too high for his target to reach.
Milan break with purpose, as Taarabt slips in an excellent diagonal ball to the overlapping Honda on the right hand side, but his cross goes over the head of Balotelli and the chance dries up. What seemed like a coordinated attack lost all cohesion in the end.
ABBIATI SAVES! Good move by the home side, as Totti slides the free kick behind a crowd of players to the undetected Pjanic. He slaps a shot on goal, but Abbiati dives to his left to push it over the top.
Gervinho nips the ball off the toes of a Milan defender and slides it to Totti, who skips past Rami but is felled, winning a free kick just on the edge of the box.
Nearly a peach of a ball over the top of the defence from Pjanic for Gervinho, but Rami gets his head to the ball just before it went through for the Ivorian. Not the first time he's won that battle today, the French defender.
MONTOLIVO! A decent opportunity for the Italian midfielder to strike! Kaka won possession deep on the wing and shimmied his way into space before cutting the ball back to the top of the box, but Montolivo side-footed an effort wide!
No changes at the half for either side as the second half gets into gear. Milan have taken over possession at the beginning here, but the tempo is understandably taking some time to get into gear.
Here we go again.
It seemed set to end in a stalemate, the first half, but a moment of magic from Pjanic has put the home side in the lead. Hopefully is sparks a change in tempo for the second half. Stay tuned.
45' + 1'
Well, I was just about to mention that the Roma fans were trying to rouse their team to a last rally in the first half. And they have done just that! What Ljajic failed to do earlier in the half, Pjanic achieved. He's been booked for taking off his shirt during the celebration but he won't care.
Yellow Card Miralem Pjanic
Assist Francesco Totti
Goal Miralem Pjanic
What a special, memorable strike! He simply carves his way through the heart of the Milan defence, and slots a neat finish into the corner after beating two players. Excellent from the Bosnian!
PJANIC SCORES! ROMA LEAD!
DE ROSSI! That was a decent chance! The Giallorossi play the ball patiently at the top of the box, and finally fashion an opening for De Rossi to crack a shot on goal from 20 yards, but it goes over the top. He had time and space to pick a target there.
Yellow Card Keisuke Honda
Booking on the cards for Honda now, who clips Dodo, who has been very active motoring up and down the left hand side. Once again though, Roma cannot make anything happen from the free kick.
Milan haven't gotten out of their own half for the last 10 minutes or so, as they seem content to sit deep and soak up the opposition pressure. It continues to tilt slowly from side to side, the balance.
Muntari is booked for taking out Pjanic, but the home side cannot make anything happen from the resulting free kick. Still no goals here as the first half matures. The fans still making a game of it.
Yellow Card Sulley Muntari
Balotelli has a clear run at goal ahead of the last two defenders. He drives towards the near post, but strangely decides to cut back inside for a better angle instead of smashing it on goal. This allows the defence time to get back, and they muscle him off the ball. He falls theatrically, but the referee is unmoved.
Roma have been dominating the ball in the past few minutes, but as per usual, are finding it difficult to break down the visiting defence. Abbiati has been untroubled in net so far, with not a thing to do.
Gervinho goes close to getting into shooting position inside the box, but his shot is deflected over the bar by Constant, and the chance evaporates. Roma's best spell of the game without a doubt.
LJAJIC NEARLY! He weaves his way in and out of traffic inside the box, and has an angle to shoot for a second, but sees his attempt charged down at the last minute and put out for a corner! That was a good move!
Not a whole lot happening down on the pitch. It's almost dead even as far as the balance of play is concerned. Hard to see where the breakthrough will come, it's so tight and congested around both penalty areas!
CHANCES! Well, a half chance at best, but still something positive! The corner from Totti is not properly dealt with by the defence, and it falls to Dodo just inside the box. He lashes a shot towards goal, but puts a little too much mustard on it and it goes over the bar.
Roma are finding it very difficult to play through this Milan side. The Rossoneri are well organized and positioned to stop the attempts of the home side to break through their ranks. Roma often look at their best on the counter, but Milan are not allowing them to have such an avenue to attack.
They get it all wrong. De Rossi tries to pick out the flank-side run of Gervinho with a deceptive set piece, but Montolivo read the danger and blocked off the Ivorian from getting into position.
Totti is hammered into by Mexes, who crunches into his one time teammate with a very tough tackle. He's perhaps lucky to avoid a booking, despite the protests of the home fans. Roma have a free kick now, a little too far out for a shot though.
A glimpse of what Roma are trying to accomplish offensively, as a long ball out from the back is angled towards Gervinho. He's one on one with Rami, and always has the centre back beaten for pace, but the former Valencia man rises well to head away the danger before it can go behind him.
Milan are starting to put the stamp down on this game. Roma are sitting back to let them monopolize the ball, and that has led to the home side struggling to break upfield and cause problems at the other end. It's still very congested outside De Sanctis' box though.
Splendid defensive work by De Rossi! Kaka latches onto a loose ball and catches the Roma defence short of numbers, with the fullbacks nowhere to be seen. But the Giallorossi vice captain covers for his teammates wonderfully, keeping stride with the Brazilian and forcing him away from goal with an excellent sliding tackle.
Balotelli is fouled on the corner of the box, and Montolivo takes charge of the set piece, with a swarm of players lining up in the box. He whips it towards the far post, but it's swinging too far away from goal, and too far away from the boot of Rami, who attempted to connect with an overhead kick. He's been trying to pull that off a lot lately.
The defensive work from both sets of attacking players has been diligent and focused so far. Milan clearly recognize the threat of Gervinho and Ljajic running in behind their fullbacks, and have enlisted Honda and Taarabt to track back at every available opportunity.
Totti slashes a shot wide from the top of the box, which never looks like causing Abbiati any sort of problems. Roma just about shading the early exchanges here, it's a very tight start to the game.
Roma have won eight straight games and a victory tonight will bring up a club record run. They also need only a point from their remaining four games to mark their best-ever tally for a season, beating their 82-point mark from the 2007-08 campaign.
Here we go!
Lovely touch from Roma to acknowledge the terrible news of Tito Vilanova's passing. 'Ciao Tito' reads the message on the big screen, and the full contingent of fans stands up and applauds to commemorate the former Barcelona coach.
Roma still boast the league's best defence, and face a side that has really struggled to click offensively at times this season. There is simply a lack of pace in the Rossoneri attack, which could easily get bogged down and nullified here, away from home. Furthermore, without De Jong to protect the defence, Totti could have a field day, while Gervinho and Ljajic will surely test fullbacks Constant and Bonera - who have both struggled at times this season. I expect a Roma victory.
The last meeting between these two sides finished in an entertaining 2-2 draw at San Siro nine days before Christmas. Neither of Roma's goalscorers on that night - Strootman and Destro - are in their team tonight. However, that shouldn't faze the Giallorossi too badly.
After a terrible season that saw them bounce around mid table mediocrity for the most part, Milan find themselves outside the European places only on their head to head record with seventh placed Parma. In fact, both clubs have 51 points, and an identical number of goals scored and conceded. The Rossoneri's good form of late may see them finally break that barrier.
Roma simply need to win here. Juve have opened up an eight point gap at the top with only four games remaining in the season. With the Bianconeri set to visit Stadio Olimpico on the penultimate matchday of the season, Rudi Garcia will want his team to have that gap as small as possible by that date. No margin for error.
Keisuke Honda has missed Milan's last two games with an ankle injury, but he's been passed fit to start against the capital outfit. However, the fixture comes too soon for the injured Michael Essien, while Nigel De Jong also misses out due to suspension. Therefore, Riccardo Montolivo and Sulley Muntari man the middle for the Rossoneri. Mario Balotelli also leads the line, just in front of Kaka.
Roma are still without hotshot striker Mattia Destro, who continues to serve a four game ban for punching Savide Astori in the Giallorossi's matchup against Cagliari. Therefore, it's a loosely defined front three of Francesco Totti, Gervinho and Adem Ljajic. The Roma captain will play his typical trequartisa with the Ivorian and the Serb both looking to stretch play ahead of him on the flanks.
AC MILAN (4-2-3-1): Abbiati; Bonera, Rami, Mexes, Constant; Montolivo, Muntari; Honda, Kakà, Taarabt; Balotelli.
ROMA (4-3-3): De Sanctis; Maicon, Toloi, Castan, Dodo; Nainggolan, De Rossi, Pjanic; Gervinho, Totti, Ljajic.
Hello and welcome to this week's early Serie A fixture. And it's a tasty one for sure, as Roma look to keep their slim title hopes alive against AC Milan. I'm Keeghann Sinanan, your guide for all the action.
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