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Italy - Serie A
December 20, 2014
• Stadio Olimpico, Roma
Referee: N. Rizzoli
• Attendance: 46620
Massive result for Milan and with that, I'll bid you all farewell. Keeghann Sinanan here, signing off.
The referee ends the game and there's some frustrated folk in the stands. Rona have no one to blame but themselves though. Encouraging in the first half, they allowed themselves to fall off after the interval, and even Armero's dismissal could not spark their revival. They will now go into the winter break with a three-point gap to leaders Juventus. Milan are two points behind third-place Napoli.
90' + 3'
MASSIVE LET OFF FOR MILAN! What wonderful interplay inside the box as Gervinho slices up Milan once again, playing a lovely one-two with Yanga-Mbiwa but can't pass the ball into the back of the net from six yards, as Lopez saves.
90' + 1'
All nine outfield players from Milan are camped inside their own half now. Desperate times call for desperate measures as De Jong leads by example, throwing his body in the way of everything.
Stephan El Shaarawy
The seconds tick away, Rom continue to probe and Milan remain with the gate shut. To me it hasn't seemed like the Giallorossi have wanted a game winner badly enough since Armero's red card.
Stephan El Shaarawy
Mexes reacts terribly to that last Destro mistake and he gets booked. Funny, since there was a high likelihood of a yellow card for the Roma striker for the initial infraction.
Yellow CardMattia Destro
Yellow CardPhilippe Mexes
Happy feet from Gervinho wh runs out of ideas after beating two players and stabs the ball into the area. Lopez gets to the ball ahead just ahead of Destro, who cracks him in the head with his sliding boot. Mexes is raging.
ENORMOUS WASTE! Lopez is left stranded outside his area after misjudging a cross from Yanga-Mbiwa, and the keeper is on the byline, almost at the edge of his box against Torosidis. However, the Greek is too ambitious, hitting a first-time volley badly over the mark.
Muntari replaces Poli to muck things up for the final stretch. It's all hands to the pump for the Rossoneri now, with less than 10 minutes remaining.
Not a single thing happening out on the pitch, to the immense frustration of the supporters. Milan are draw specialists this season with six to their name so far and they will bite your hand off if you offered them a seventh.
Roma's supporters have become increasingly frustrated here with their side unable to crack this particular 10-man nut. They're at their best on the break and it's tougher for them to try to probe their way through.
De Rossi gets booked for fouling Menez and is immediately withdrawn for Destro. Clear that Garcia and Co. are going on full throttle now. In contrast, Milan sacrifice Honda for Alex.
Daniele De Rossi
Yellow CardDaniele De Rossi
Now this presents Roma with a fantastic chance, just the lifeline they were hoping for. They've been under Milan's thumb for most of the second half but now, there's no excuse for not going for all three points.
RED CARD! The Roma players have leaned on the referee enough and he decides to award Armero with his second yellow card. Never thought a man with the prestige of Rizzoli would be turned so easily.
Trouble here as Armero appeared to handle the ball in a tussle with Keita. The Colombian jogs away almost too obviously from the secne of the crime. Keita and Co. appeal furiously as he's already been booked.
Yellow CardNigel De Jong
De Jong tackles his mirror image in Nainggolan, earning him a booking. That's his fifth of the season and means that he will be suspended for one game when Serie A resumes from the winter break.
Yellow CardNigel De Jong
LAAAAAATE offside on Menez after he took a Honda pass in stride and has the presence of mind to round De Sanctis. Replays show it to be a spot-on decision, though. The crowd is forced to be quiet after Menez had prodded the ball into the goal.
Honda's persistence wins a free kick on the touchline and from the resulting set piece, Mexes tries to fool the referee into awarding another one closer to goal but he's not buying it.
Yellow CardAlessandro Florenzi
Next up on the yellow card draw is Florenzi, who takes a piece out of Manolas on the turn right in the sightline of the referee. I have a feeling that's not going to be the last booking as Milan continue to probe.
Maicon gets flashed with the yellow card after he uses his feet like a battering ram to take out Zapata in midfield.
One hour gone and no goals. Not the kind of game to leave a good taste in your mouth heading into the winter break.
Now it's Bonaventura's turn to get the defence antsy by escaping down the left-hand side, but De Sanctis is there once again to mop up at the post. Inzaghi must slowly be gaining confidence.
Poli has another crack from range but misses his mark. It's been very flat from Roma in this second half and that's allowing Milan a lot more time to play their passes in the middle.
Both sides have put in a hell of a shift in midfield, working hard, running down 50-50s and communicating with each other. However, that's led to the ball getting bogged down in central areas fairly often.
Honda wins a high knock down amidst a crowd of players and Menez can attack it inside the box. It bounces off his shin though, and he can't quite pull off the effort. Saved by the keeper.
Menez is back with us but not moving at full tilt. His injury has typified the scrappy start to the second half as there's been none of the enterprise that pockmarked periods of the first.
Milan get chopped down a man and it's the one player they would not have wanted to go down injured. Menez is left in pain clutching his ankle. and the Rossoneri have to proceed with 10 men.
Here we go again.
Right away, the referee blows for half time and it's goalless here at the Olimpico. Roma have generally bossed this game but the Rossoneri ranks have dug their heels in at the back. A debatable no-call on a De Jong handball will be a talking point long after this game is done. Stay tuned for the restart soon.
Roma's main G tries to leave two defenders tripping down the right side but Mexes is across to cover. That time, the Frenchman's gamble paid off. Still goalless here with half time on the agenda.
Sometimes a Gervinho in flight reminds me of Neymar at the Maracana.
Roma's ability to switch flanks on the attack is admirable, but Milan are standing firm. They're not falling for all the huffing and puffing.
Yellow CardPablo Armero
Armero opens wide to take a bite out of Totti's heel. The referee doesn't hesitate and books the ex-Udinese man for the indiscretion.
THAT'S HOW IT'S DONE! Mexes gives a clinic on long-range shooting with a missile from at least 35 yards that needs a big hand from De Sanctis to tip over the bar. Special all around.
Poli tries to set the world on fire with a crack from all of 35 yards but he misses the target. Sign of desperation from Milan there and that's not a good thing given that Roma are looking hungry.
Roma are in the ascendancy here and there's no question that Milan haven't lived up to their fast start. Menez tries to get his team back on the front foot but his pressure on Yanga-Mbiwa only results in a foul.
Milan cheat death as De Jong jumps up with his hand in the ear like the eager beaver in class. Only problem is that he did it to stop Gervinho's header. Somehow the ref and linesman missed that.
GERVINHO! After making three defenders eat his dust with a magnificent run, he only has Lopez to beat but the Milan keeper thwarts him. Goal of the season contender in the pipeline right there.
Totti has some special goals in his locker but even that angle with his back initially turned was asking too much. It's saved by Lopez.
Apart from that chance for Honda in the opening minute or so, we really haven't had anything to get us excited in terms of opportunities. Plenty o f intrigue in the tactical battle though,
As the half wears on it's becoming more of a Giallorossi train into the Milan half. The fans are behind them and making a spectacular noise despite a ton of empty seats on the lower levels.
A series of Roma dummies only make the home side look like idiots as there's no player following up on the initial deception.
Milan's pressure was leading nowhere, and then they get so excited on a slightly underhit Manolas pass that three players charge into the defender and still have the stones to look bemused when the referee calls a foul.
Some real intrigue to this game now. Roma are trying to stop Milan from playing out of the back, which is counterintuitive to their typical counter-attacking approach. They're trying to force mistakes.
Totti lets us down by pinging a defender in the head from the set piece.
Mexes gambles and fails spectacularly with a meaty leg stuck out to trip Gervinho. This is a free kick for Roma in a position that Totti would have probably chosen himself if he had a free choice.
For probably the first time in this game Florenzi gets into the opposition box but he catches a contact high, going down in search of a penalty. The referee looks at him like he's insane.
The last few minutes have seen Roma step their effort up. More pressing in the opposition half and a more concerted effort for their deeper players to make those runs in waves to keep the defence guessing.
Gervinho's speed and tremendous off-the-ball movement is perfect ammunition for the Roma counter-attacking machine. He gets the step on his man down the right but his cross finds no takers.
Milan are eating up these chunks of space in midfield a lot quicker than Roma. That's allowing them to keep the ball localized in the Giallorossi half. That could just be counter fodder though.
Only Carlos Tevez has scored more goals in Serie A than Jeremy Menez this season. He's been a masterstroke at centre forward, with his pace and dexterity on the ball a poison pill for defenders.
My man De Sanctis. Explosive start from Milan which is typified by Honda's belter to the far post. The keeper pushes it wide and recovers quickly, because Poli was next up on the rebound.
Only one change by Filippo Inzaghi from his team's clutch 2-0 win at home to third-place rivals Napoli. Adil Rami takes a back seat for Cristian Zapata, and it's Jeremy Menez who will lead the line with Stephan El Shaarawy riding the pine.
So Jose Holebas wins an appeal for what the FIGC termed as a 'provocative' gesture towards Genoa fans last time out, making him free to start tonight. Daniele De Rossi and Francesco Totti return to the XI, as does Kostas Manolas in defence.
Milan (4-3-2-1): Diego Lopez; Bonera, Mexes, Zapata, Armero; Poli, De Jong, Montolivo; Honda, Bonaventura; Menez.
Roma (4-3-3): De Sanctis; Maicon, Manolas, Yanga-Mbiwa, Holebas; Nainggolan, De Rossi, Keita; Florenzi, Totti, Gervinho.
Milan's 71 wins against Roma (in 158 meetings) are the most they've recorded against any one team. However, the Giallorossi have not been beaten in four matches against the Rossoneri, and have only lost one of their last nine meetings with these opponents at the Olimpico.
Milan started the year with only one defeat from nine, but have fallen off the wagon. They've split the difference in their last six games with two wins, two draws and two losses. Win tonight though and they could potentially go level with Napoli in third, provided that four other teams slip up.
Roma trail Juve by four points, and their one chance to replace them as table toppers died on Thursday when the Bianconeri took care of Cagliari 3-1. Still, a one-point deficit to the three-time champs is as good as breathing down their necks get.
Massive game here, people. Roma host AC Milan at Stadio Olimpico, with the Giallorossi needing a win to keep the pressure on league leaders Juventus. Milan meanwhile have to keep climbing for that third and final Champions League place. I'm Keeghann Sinanan, your designated scribe tonight.
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