By Petar Todorovski
Juventus and Roma played an unimpressive draw, stirred with a little controversy again in Roma’s favor. Vincenzo Iaquinta (photo) opened the score before Totti equalized with a penalty kick. If we were asking ourselves if Roma are title challengers, we still don’t know the answer. Lupi’s unbeaten run didn’t end, but one point doesn’t make them favorites yet. However, they went through a period of three difficult games in only seven days. They gained seven out of nine possible points. Now, with mediocre opponents on the road, Roma could go further with their run and promote them as what they want desperately to be.
As it’s usual for derbies, the game started slowly with some tension. Referee Nicola Rizzoli was experienced enough to predict the possible emotions bursting by players, so he showed off first yellow card in very first minute, when Jeremy Menez did foul.
The Frenchman was also the first who tried to score. He collected the ball on the edge of penalty area and curled in a wonderful shot that Marco Storari saved. In that period Roma had slight domination in midfield, but aside from Menez’s individual effort they didn’t do anything special. Juventus did neither. Their first goal attempt was in 24th minute when Alberto Aquilani sent great pass to Fabio Quagliarella, whose header went wide.
Aquilani remained consistent and send another incredible assist, this time to Vincenzo Iaquinta. This time it was used well. The tower striker scored wonderful volley goal to open the score sheet.
Roma continued attempting to put some more pressure, but without success. When match was near the end of first half Philippe Mexes entered the box and went down after Giorgio Chiellini’s slide tackle. What seemed to be clear penalty for the referee was clear tackle.
Nicola Rizzoli was center of attention once again seconds later. Francesco Totti shot a free kick which was stopped by Simone Pepe’s hand. Rizzoli pointed to the spot, although it wasn’t clear whether Juve midfielder was in the penalty are or not. Totti sent Storari on the wrong side and placed a confident shot to equalize the result.
The second half wasn’t so entertaining. Jeremy Menez was doing some individual efforts, unsuccessful anyway. Juventus could take the lead again if in 65th minute Claudio Marchisio reacted better when had an opportunity from acute angle. Last interesting moment was in 86th minute when Quagliarella’s shot was saved by Julio Sergio.
Juventus coach Gigi Del Neri thought that his team deserved to win. “I can’t complain about the result but I think my men deserved to win tonight. We created numerous chances in front of goal but only found the net on one occasion”, he said.
Claudio Ranieri had different opinion. He didn’t seem happy enough with the result, as his team missed opportunity to close the gap behind leading teams. He stated that his team really wanted to win. He cursed team’s luck because Juventus managed to score from their first goal opportunity, but he was proud with the team’s come back. “This is a healthy group and we have shown an ability to bounce back from difficult moments. Despite numerous injuries over the past months we are still in the thick of things and this fills me with confidence going forward”, he said after the game.