Vucinic downs Lazio in Rome derby

Roma move point above Inter Milan in Serie A after being nine points adrift in February.

    Roma went top of the table thanks to Vucinic's two goals [AFP]

    Mirko Vucinic was the toast of half the Eternal City on Sunday after his double sent Roma back to the top of Serie A with a 2-1 comeback win over rivals Lazio.

    In a highly-charged city derby full of passion and extreme aggression on the field and in the packed stands, Roma prevailed to move a point above champions Inter Milan with just four games remaining.

    "It's the most beautiful thing that exists in football. With my two goals I'm even happier," Vucinic told Sky TV after Roma extended their unbeaten run in Serie A to 24 games.

    Unthinkable

    The chance of fourth scudetto for Roma looks ever more likely having been unthinkable in February when Inter held a nine-point lead.

    Tommaso Rocchi calmly put Lazio ahead on 14 minutes after a well-timed run and the strugglers, still not clear of relegation, should have been further in front but Julio Sergio saved Sergio Floccari's penalty just after the break.

    Lazio wing back Aleksandar Kolarov was felled for the soft penalty but he was the one conceding a debatable spotkick shortly after, allowing Vucinic to fire in the equaliser.

    Serie A results

    Sunday April 18

     Atalanta 2-1 Fiorentina
     Bari 1-2 Napoli
     Cagliari 2-2 Palermo
     Catania 2-2 Siena
     Lazio 1-2 Roma
     Parma 2-3 Genoa
     Sampdoria 2-1 AC Milan
     Udinese 1-1 Bologna

    The Montenegro forward then sent the Roma fans into ecstasy when he blasted home a freekick midway through the second half which went right through the centre of a weak Lazio wall.

    AC Milan's Serie A title hopes were hanging by the shortest of threads after Giampaolo Pazzini's injury-time header sealed a 2-1 home win for European Champions League hopefuls Sampdoria.

    Marco Borriello nodded in a corner to give the visitors a 20th minute lead but Antonio Cassano equalised from the penalty spot early in the second half on Sunday after Milan's Daniele Bonera was dismissed.

    Bottom side Livorno, who lost 2-0 at Chievo on Saturday, will have to wait at least another week to be put out of their misery and be relegated after Bologna could only draw 1-1 at Udinese.

    Sampdoria's win means they are now fourth, the final Champions League qualification position, and two points ahead of fifth-placed Palermo, who drew 2-2 at Cagliari.

    Napoli are sixth after a 2-1 win at Bari but five points behind Sampa.

    Title shake-up

    With Inter beating Juventus 2-0 on Friday night, Milan knew they had to win to stand any chance of remaining involved in the title shake-up.

    The visitors took a 20th-minute lead when striker Marco Borriello rose in the box to head a Mancini corner past former Milan goalkeeper Marco Storari.

    Just three minutes later Milan had a gilt-edged opportunity to double their advantage as Borriello returned the favour for Mancini, teeing him up in front of an open goal only for the Brazilian to send his shot high into the sky.

    Sampdoria were enjoying plenty of pressure and possession without creating many clear-cut chances, although enigmatic forward Antonio Cassano was marginally off target with a header.

    It was he who earned and converted the 54th-minute penalty that restored parity, as Daniele Bonera was dismissed for a foul on the errant playmaker, who dusted himself down and converted from 12 yards.

    Down to 10 men and having lost one of his centre-backs, Milan coach Leonardo was forced into a change, bringing on full-back Massimo Oddo for winger Mancini, having also been forced into replacing injured midfielder Massimo Ambrosini with full-back Gianluca Zambrotta early in the second period.

    It meant Milan were now playing a 4-3-2 but with a full-back and a defensive midfielder in the middle of the park.

    And yet they came agonisingly close to scoring as Gennaro Gattuso brought a fine save out of Storari and Borriello squandered what looked a certain goal, put on a plate by Ronaldinho, by weakly slicing wide with the goal gaping.

    But after that little flurry, Sampa regained control and Pazzini popped up in injury time to head home, giving goalkeeper Dida no chance.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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