Elation for Roma after huge derby win

ROME – An inspired AS Roma delivered a vitally important victory against bitter rivals Lazio on Saturday at the Stadio Olimpico, instilling confidence in their supporters after a tough start to the Serie A.

 Lorenzo Pellegrino gave the hosts the lead on the stroke of half-time, backheeling the ball home as Lazio couldn’t clear their lines. The atmosphere in the crowd was stifled a short way into the second half, however; Lazio’s Ciro Immobile collected the ball 30 yards out, drove forward and put a lovely finish past Olsen to draw his side level. It did not take long for Roma to bounce back, Alexsandar Kolarov curling a freekick from the edge of the box round the wall into the back of the net. Lazio continued to push forward in search of an equaliser, but nothing quite came together, as the Roma defence was able to withstand the continued pressure. Instead it was the home side who found the net once more, another set-piece proving difficult for Lazio to deal with. Goalscorer Pellegrini found an unmarked Fazio with a perfectly weighted delivery, and the centre-back made no mistake, burying his header to give Roma an unassailable 3-1 lead. The victory gives them a confidence-boosting second win in a row and brings them up to eighth in the table, now just one point behind Lazio.

 At the top of the table, Juventus overcame an early scare to see off title-challengers Napoli 3-1 with a victory that manager Allegri described as “an important step”. In Turin, however, it was the away team that started brighter, taking the lead after only 10 minutes. Dries Mertens finished a lovely series of passes stemming from a mistake in the Juventus backline, brought on by Napoli’s high press. Despite the early setback, Juve soon found their feet, Ronaldo, having found space out on the left, whipping a cross in for Mandzukic to head home on 26 minutes. The pair inadvertently combined again just after half-time to give the Old Lady the lead, as the Croatian found himself with an easy tap-in after Ronaldo had struck the post. The daunting task of recovering from 2-1 down against the league leaders was daunting enough for Napoli before they were reduced to 10 men. Marco Rui received a second yellow card for a challenge on Dybala, and Juve controlled the game from then on. Despite his best efforts, Ronaldo couldn’t add his name to the scoresheet, but finished the game with a third assist, as his header from a corner was helped goal-wards at the back post by Leonardo Bonucci. Now with seven wins from seven in the Serie A, Juventus have already opened up a dangerous six-point lead over Napoli. If this form continues, it seems that their ‘title-challengers’ will instead be facing a fight for second place.

 Elsewhere, Fiorentina drew closer to Napoli with a comfortable 2-0 win against a struggling Atalanta, and now lie third, on a par with Inter and Sassuolo, who had differing success at the weekend. While Inter mirrored Fiorentina’s result at home to Cagliari, Sassuolo suffered a surprising 4-1 home loss to AC Milan, who have moved into the top 10 for the first time this season. Empoli, Frosinone and Chievo remain rooted to the bottom of the table, suffering defeats to Parma, Genoa and Torino, respectively. Sampdoria host SPAL on Monday evening, both teams only separated by a point; after their encouraging start, SPAL have struggled in recent weeks and now sit eleventh in the table.