Roma see off Internazionale

19

Miralem Pjanic's second-half brace secured a dramatic 4-2 victory for Roma at the expense of Roberto Mancini's Inter Milan on Sunday night. The Serie A title hopefuls remain three points behind leaders Juventus – who earlier won the Turin derby – after twice wresting back their lead from an enthusiastic Inter side at the Stadio Olimpico. Gervinho's opener was cancelled out by Andrea Ranocchia before half-time and Jose Holebas then saw the effect of his remarkable goal on the run rubbed out by former Roma striker Dani Osvaldo. Pjanic's close-range finish promptly restored the hosts' advantage and the Bosnian confirmed the win with a majestic free-kick at the death. The Giallorossi are now eight points clear of third-placed Genoa while Inter slip one place to 11th. Roma captain Francesco Totti, so often Inter's tormentor in this fixture, was first to try his luck with a right-footed effort from distance. It was Ljajic who went closer in the 19th minute, though, his powerful drive forcing a desperate parry from Samir Handanovic. Roma took the lead two minutes later thanks to fine work from their Serbian schemer. Ljajic did brilliantly to get into a position where he could flash the ball across the box for Gervinho, who tapped home to notch his first league goal since the opening weekend. Gervinho had the ball in the back of the net again in the 34th minute, only to be ruled offside, and Inter capitalised on that disappointment by levelling a few moments later. It was Ranocchia who rose highest to meet a corner, his header beating Morgan de Sanctis as Roma conceded at home for the first time in the league this season. The capital club might have restored their lead before the break, but both Gervinho and Ljajic saw their shots closed down by Ranocchia and Guy Medel respectively. The Giallorossi were quick out of the blocks when play resumed and only needed two minutes to deliver a second goal in sensational fashion. Holebas was the surprise scorer, the Greek full-back dancing around the challenge of Hugo Campagnaro before passing the ball around Ranocchia and rifling it past Handanovic. Osvaldo was jeered as his audacious attempt to score with a bicycle kick failed, but he silenced his former supporters in the 57th minute. The on-loan Southampton striker wheeled away with a finger to his lips after collecting Dodo's pass and beating De Sanctis, largely thanks to a heavy deflection off Davide Astori. There was time for another goal before the hour mark. Pjanic was the man who made the most of a goalmouth scramble in the Inter box as he stubbed home Totti's pass and Roma were once again in the box seat. Inter boss Mancini was then sent to the stands for dissent and missed the next Roma raid, which saw the impressive Radja Nainggolan fizz a rasping drive just wide of a post. Medel led Inter's recovery mission and saw his venomous shot parried out for a corner before Rodrigo Palacio went close with a header from Campagnaro's cross. Substitute Juan Iturbe's failure to score Roma's fourth at the end of a fearsome dribbling run – Campagnaro was skinned once again – took the sting out of the game somewhat, but it was not over. Deep into stoppage time, Pjanic made doubly sure of the final outcome by steering a pinpoint free-kick beyond Handanovic to rubber-stamp a vital victory for the title challengers.