By David Rodich
Inter Milan and AS Roma met Saturday in Rome’s Stadio Olimpico to play a round 5 Serie A match that would become characterized more by yellow cards than by goals. In the end it was Roma that finally found the net in the waning minutes, earning themselves their first victory of the season and handing Inter their only loss of the young campaign.
While the first half was void of any goals or clear scoring chances, it wasn’t due to lack of trying. Both teams pushed forward plenty, but, as can happen so often in Italian football, the defenses simply prevailed. For Inter, Stanković looked the most likely to produce a goal with four long range efforts, one of them hitting the crossbar, and a chip pass to Eto’o that found him free in the box for a fleeting moment before he was quickly closed down.
After some early chances for the Nerazzurri in the second half, the match devolved into a series of retribution fouls with each team racking up four yellow cards. Roma’s Jeremy Menez was a spark of skill and pace within the ugly play as he proved difficult for Chivu to contain along the right touchline. In the 55th minute he almost created a scoring chance when he slotted a low pass across the face of goal that was just a step in front of the striker Borriello, who would have surely scored if he had connected. Then, just minutes later, Roma was gifted an opportunity in the form of a rare indirect free kick in the Inter box awarded when goalkeeper Julio Cesar absentmindedly put the ball down and picked it up again. Roma wasted the chance though as the ball was passed to the captain Totti who blasted it over the goal from short range.
As cards piled up and time ran short both teams made efforts to go for the win. Inter’s best opportunity came in the 82nd minute when Eto’o fired a shot from the edge of the box that was saved well by second-string goalkeeper Lobont. Then in extra time De Rossi swung in a cross from the right side that found substitute Mirko Vučinić, who headed it past Cesar for the Roma victory.
The crowd erupted, and the Montenegrin striker celebrated this well struck goal by kicking over several advertisements behind the Inter net. Maybe this was an outburst of frustration resulting from his, and the team’s, poor form so far this season, or maybe it was just a continuation of the anger that characterized the preceding 90 minutes. Either way, it seemed a fitting end to an ugly match.
This win extends Roma’s unbeaten home run in the Serie A to eighteen games proving that beating the Giallorossi, even when they are short of top form, at the Stadio Olimpico is a true feat.