Roma reaps re­wards after Mi­lan’s costly mis­fire

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - SPORTS - By AGENCE FRANCEPRESSE in Mi­lan

Radja Naing­golan hit a sec­ond-half scorcher to se­cure Roma’s 1-0 win over AC Mi­lan, which saw M’Baye Niang miss a first-half penalty, to close to within four points of leader Ju­ven­tus on Mon­day.

Roma and Mi­lan both trailed Ju­ven­tus by seven point after Gon­zalo Higuain’s brace on Sun­day sealed a cru­cial 2-1 derby win for Juve at Torino.

AC Mi­lan coach Vin­cenzo Mon­tella was wel­comed back to the sta­dium where he played many mem­o­rable matches as a for­ward for the Gial­lorossi, cel­e­brat­ing his goals by do­ing the ‘aero­planino’ (lit­tle air­plane).

But it was Lu­ciano Spal­letti’s host who was left cel­e­brat­ing fol­low­ing an en­ter­tain­ing clash, Naing­golan beat­ing Mi­lan’s teenage goal­keeper Gian­luigi Don­narumma in the 62nd minute to make it three wins in suc­ces­sion.

Roma re­mains sec­ond, four points off the lead, with Mi­lan seven adrift in third and with a one-point lead on Napoli and Lazio.

“It was a dif­fi­cult game tonight be­cause Mi­lan has qual­ity through­out the squad,” Spal­letti told Me­di­aset.

“What they say about this team and their coach is true. They’re up there with the best and they’ ll be fight­ing to the end. We did well to take the three points.”

After 20 min­utes, Gian­luca La­padula earned Mi­lan’s chance when he tempted Wo­j­ciech Szczesny into a rash tackle.

But when Niang stepped up to take it, Mi­lan fans had rea­son for con­cern.

Last week the French­man was in­volved in an on-field spat with La­padula after his fel­low for­ward won a penalty at Cro­tone.

Niang won the ar­gu­ment but missed the penalty, and, thanks to La­padula’s late win­ner, Mi­lan earned the points from a 2-1 win.

This time there was no spat, but Niang’s tame shot was eas­ily cov­ered by Szczesny, who dived to his left to parry it to safety.

“They say Mi­lan gets lucky some­times. Well, not tonight,” Mon­tella said:

“But there were a lot of pos­i­tives tonight, it wouldn’t be fair to fo­cus on just one in­ci­dent.”

Szczesny laughed off his hero­ics: “I was just do­ing my job. I’d made an er­ror so was try­ing to rem­edy it.”

After the miss, Roma took the ini­tia­tive. Striker Edin Dzeko fired inches past Don­narumma’s post, but Spal­letti was con­cerned when Bruno Peres was stretchered off in tears to be re­placed by for­mer Mi­lan for­ward Stephan El Shaarawy.

Mi­lan re­sumed in far more pos­i­tive fash­ion after the break, but Mario Pasalic was off tar­get from An­drea Ber­to­lacci’s de­liv­ery.

And after Diego Perotti blasted over from a cor­ner for the host, Naing­golan cut in from the right to unleash a left-foot drive from out­side the area that left Don­narumma clutch­ing at thin air.

Roma could have dou­bled its lead but Don­narumma did well to stop a Dzeko strike after the Bos­nian robbed Gabriel Paletta.

At the other end, Mati Fer­nan­dez failed to trou­ble Szczesny with a near-post shot.

Ear­lier, Croa­tia striker Nikola Kalinic struck a stun­ning first-half brace as Fiorentina held off a Sas­suolo fight­back to pre­vail 2-1 and go sev­enth.

AP FILE

Cristiano Ron­aldo cel­e­brates with the tro­phy at the end of the Euro 2016 fi­nal be­tween Por­tu­gal and France at the Stade de France in Saint-De­nis, north of Paris on July 10.

MAX ROSSI / REUTERS

Roma’s Radja Naing­golan in ac­tion against AC Mi­lan at Sta­dio Olimpico in Rome on Mon­day.

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