Balde brace ruins Totti’s derby farewell
MILAN: Keita Balde struck twice as Lazio ruined Francesco Totti’s final derby as a player yesterday with a thrilling 3-1 win over Roma that could also jeopardise their push for a top-two finish in Serie A.
Roma hosted their city rivals looking to maintain their fading title challenge to leaders Juventus after a 2-2 draw at Atalanta on Saturday took their lead to nine points with four games remaining.
But Juve’s slip-up wasn’t enough to entice Roma on what should have been Totti’s derby farewell as his final season in Italy’s top flight draws to a close.
Luciano Spalletti’s men physically turned up at the Stadio Olimpico, but mentally looked elsewhere as they struggled to impose their usual, fast-flowing game against a Lazio side battling for a place in Europe.
Roma enjoyed a bright start, Edin Dzeko notably firing over while under pressure from six yards out.
But the red and yellow half of the Stadio Olimpico was stunned into silence before the quarterhour when Balde collected a perfect through ball from deep in midfield to sidestep two defenders and fire through the legs of Emerson Palmieri to wrong-foot Wojciech Szczesny in the Roma net.
Lazio felt they should have had a penalty earlier when Fazio appeared to foul Lukaku but it was Roma which was awarded a spot kick just before halftime.
De Rossi stepped up and calmly sent the penalty into the bottom right corner.
Lazio restored their advantage three minutes later as Basta's strike from just outside the area was deflected past Szczesny by Fazio.
On another counter Senad Lulic was allowed to run half the length of the pitch before finding Balde with a precision pass inside the area for the striker to slot past Szczesny five minutes from the end. AFP