Vucinic 53(P), 63
Derby della Capitale is rarely a dull affair. On top of that, both teams desperately needed the three points for entirely different reasons as Roma are gunning for title and Lazio are hovering over the relegation zone. Needless to say, a feisty affair was expected at Stadio Olimpico and the Roman derby lived up to its expectations.
Claudio Ranieri elected to start a trident attack in the form of Luca Toni, Francesco Totti and Mirko Vucinic whereas Edy Reja left the mercurial Mauro Zarate on bench. The Lazio Coach was forced to make a substitution as early as seventh minute as Gugliglemo Stendardo suffered an injury in the form of broken nose while clearing a low ball. Aleksandar Kolarov was rampaging down the left flank but without delivering the final ball successfully. On 14 minutes, Tommaso Rocchi escaped from Nicolas Burdisso and latched on to a delightful chipped pass by Cristian Ledesma. The captain’s cool finish past Julio Sergio sent the Lazio faithful into raptures. Apart from the goal, Rocchi put in a true captain’s performance. He led from the front and was easily the most dangerous of the Lazio players, giving the Roman defence all sorts of problems. Keeping a player of Ledesma’s quality out of the squad over personal feuds is inexplicable. Ever since Reja reintegrated the Argentine into the squad, he has been a revelation.
The shock did not seem to awaken Roma as the efforts from the title contenders were clearly lacking. Lazio dominated the possession and were looking to increase their lead. A few minutes before the break, Roma mounted some half-hearted attacks with no end result. At half-time, Ranieri surprised everyone by substituting Daniele De Rossi and Francesco Totti for Rodrigo Taddei and Jeremy Menez, respectively. The decisions ultimately paid off but Ranieri has indeed lived up to his nickname as ‘The Tinkerman’.
Lazio won a penalty early in the second half but Sergio Floccari wasted a glorious chance to put the game beyond Roma’s reach. His penalty was extremely weak and posed no problems for Julio Sergio. Both of Ranieri’s substitutes would be influential in course of the game as minutes later, Taddei was fouled by Kolarov and Mirko Vucinic converted the resulting penalty. Later, it was Menez who was fouled outside Lazio’s penalty box leading to a free kick that Vucinic dispatched ferociously. After taking the lead, the Giallorossi seemed extremely comfortable dealing with any attacking threats that the Aquile created.
The game was not without controversy as a scuffle broke out towards the end of normal time and Ledesma was sent off. After the game, Roma players celebrated wildly and Totti made a double thumbs-down gesture towards the Laziale which probably had a hint of a relegation taunt. Totti has apologized since and revealed that he was simply responding to a similar gesture made towards him by Roberto Baronio earlier in the season. Reja has already called for Totti to be banned for 10 games. Unfortunately this fantastic game was tainted by violence amongst supporters after the game as a total of four people were injured.