Vucinic 53(pen), 63
The old football cliché, a game of two halves, was never truer than on Sunday evening as the Rome derby produced a thrilling game of football, with the Giallorossi regaining the lead of Serie A after seeing off their capital rivals. It was tight affair, where league form counted for very little. What did eventually count, however, was the courageousness of two men.
The first half was won by Lazio, Tommaso Rocchi steering his shot past Julio Sergio. Roma had much of the possession but did little with it and could not find the sort of form that has seen them top the table in a quite sensational run of league games. At times, Claudio Ranieri’s men looked jaded and devoid of ideas. With Inter having beaten Juventus two nights earlier, it appeared as though the men in red were going to falter just as the pressure was starting to mount. But these are the moments when bravery, calculated risk and valour are required, and the Roman Tactician, with the help of one of Europe’s most underrated forwards, would stand up and be counted.
The second half, incredibly, began without either Francesco Totti or Daniele De Rossi (both had been booked in the first period). The two symbols of AS Roma, the flag bearers, the present and future captains, were sat on the bench, replaced by Jeremy Menez and Rodrigo Taddei. A quite brilliant, if not perilous, tactical switch that ensured a change of approach to the game and, more importantly in such a heated derby, removing the likelihood that one or both of these men would see red. The change could have cost Ranieri dearly had Julio Sergio not saved Sergio Floccari’s penalty only minutes into the second half. The save – to call it a miss would do Julio Sergio an injustice – only served to galvanise new captain Simone Perrotta and his men, especially the superb Mirko Vucinic. Roma were handed a spot kick on 53 minutes and the Montenegrin striker held his nerve under intense pressure to equalise for Roma.
Ten minutes later he did it all again, this time with a fiercely struck free-kick which crashed through the wall and beyond Nestor Muslera. He could have skied it or tried a delicate curl into one of the corners and missed but he trusted in his own ability and this brace of goals could prove to be the most decisive in Roma’s potentially Scudetto winning campaign.
The rest of the match passed with Lazio pressing hard for an equaliser – Mauro Zarate was particularly impressive – whilst Roma defended strongly and even threatened to score on the counter-attack. As the final whistle blew the pitch turned into something akin to a Friday night brawl as players and staff had to be pulled away from each other. All that really mattered though, was the guts shown by Claudio Ranieri and the rock solid nerves of ex-Lecce man Vucinic. The 2010 Derby della Capitale will be remembered for this and this alone.