Marco Borriello made a stunning return to Milan in Roma colours on Saturday night to sink his parent club with a second-half strike and bring a whole cluster of teams back into the Serie A title picture in the process. It also ultimately gave Inter the perfect weekend as they returned victorious from the FIFA Club World Cup in the United Arab Emirates.
It was anticipated that Roma would make the trip to Lombardy looking for a draw, but after a slow start the Lupi eventually grew in confidence and were rewarded for their attacking play with Boriello’s winner. In the English Premiership, Clubs virtually never allow an outgoing loanee to face them in a fixture, but no such clause was implemented in Boriello’s temporary move to Roma, so Claudio Ranieri partnered his loanee with Adriano and left out Francesco Totti.
Both sides set up with narrow formations and two up front, which resulted in a slow-paced game and little space in the middle of the park, where both sides struggled to maintain possession for large spells.
Robinho looked to continue his good partnership with Zlatan Ibrahimovic, while Ronaldinho started on the bench once more as Massimiliano Allegri continued with his preferred 4-3-1-2 formation, with Kevin Prince Boateng enjoying an extended run of good form behind the strikers.
Robinho almost broke the deadlock early on with a tricky run from the left complete with trademark stepovers, turning Phillipe Mexes inside out and leaving him on his backside, but the Brazilian dragged his effort inches wide, to the dismay of the Rossoneri faithful.
However, he continued to sparkle and taunt the Giallorossi defence, and after another jinking run inside from the left he set up Gennaro Gattuso, who wastefully blazed over. Milan went close again shortly after as Boateng let a ball drop over his shoulder before volleying towards the bottom right corner but Doni was equal to it.
Roma were handed their first opportunity of the night when Adriano’s diagonal pass towards Borriello was cut out by Ignazio Abate, only to find its way into the path of Jeremy Menez directly in front of goal, but the Frenchman’s wayward effort ended up in the third tier of the Giuseppe Meazza as Christian Abbiati looked on relieved.
Roma’s high defensive line continued to hand Milan opportunities with balls over the top, and Boateng’s flick-on set Ibrahimovic free. The Swedish international bore down on Doni’s goal but was denied as the Brazilian goalkeeper stood tall and blocked the scooped shot.
The game was extremely tight, with neat, short passing the sole form of unlocking both defences. Frustration began to creep into the Milan attack as Clarence Seedorf took aim from range without troubling the Roma goal, and the visitors soon punished the Rossoneri at the other end.
Menez made up for his earlier spectacular miss by finding space on the right wing and beating Luca Antonini before driving a cross across the six-yard-box that Borriello flicked into the net to silence the home fans.
Milan almost equalised soon after as Seedorf’s angled through-ball fed Ibrahimovic but the Swede pulled his shot wide as Doni stood big. Roma could have added a second late on as Daniele De Rossi thumped a thirty-yard volley that Abbiati did well to tip over.
The loss leaves Milan just three points clear at the top after both Lazio and Napoli gained ground with late winners over Udinese and Lecce respectively. Psychologically it’s an untimely defeat as the Club must now wait over a fortnight before they have a chance to bounce back. As it is, Allegri now has plenty to chew over during the Christmas break.