Despite a match dominated by the visitors, Saturday night’s title chasing game at the Stadio Olimpico would end goalless. A draw would be useless for both teams, who were perhaps having one final launch to wrestle the Scudetto from Inter’s hands. Milan had more of the possession but time and again they were unable to convert their chances into goals.
The traveling tifosi had done their job perfectly and every last one of them deserved three points, as they successfully silenced the home crowd. Of course the Rossoneri’s looming 2nd leg Champions League match with Manchester United is evidently on their mind, but with Inter’s indifferent form of late they have been able to pick the points off of the Nerazzurri’s lead week by week. This was perhaps their last chance, albeit away to a Roma side who had not lost a Serie A game home or away since last October.
Both Coaches, Claudio Ranieri for Roma and Leonardo for Milan, were dressed head to toe in all black – maybe that was the first sign that the match would end all square. But Milan, as disappointed as they would have been to get nothing from the game, could not really complain. At times it was like watching the keystone cops, with the Dutch forward Klass-Jan Huntelaar the centre figure of guilt. Huntelaar wasted a superb opportunity with only Roma keeper Júlio Sérgio to beat but missed from yards. At the death, he should have given Milan all three points but headed over the bar from point blank range. He claimed that Giallorossi defender Nicolás Burdisso had put his foot into his head. He was correct, but if the Dutchman had not minded having a bloody face then he would have scored and given Milan the win. Instead his effort was half-hearted – in short no commitment. Burdisso had done his job, although he should at least have been cautioned.
The wasteful chances continued and were summed up by the almost laughable Ronaldinho effort late on in the game. A frustrated Ronnie was awarded a free-kick on the edge of the left hand side of the Roma area. He had been body checked all night by Rodrigo Taddei and this was the Brazilian’s chance to answer his frustrations. Instead of crossing the ball to a waiting Filippo Inzaghi or David Beckham, not to mention Huntelaar, he went for the spectacular. From the tightest of angles he smashed the ball diagonally somewhere into the suburbs of Rome. Maybe he was thinking ahead of himself. Just imagine Dunga, Brazil’s Coach, spitting out his morning coffee over La Gazzetta dello Sport after reading about Ronnie’s spectacular winning goal at the Olimpico. Whilst the coffee may still end up all over his paper, it will be for the wrong reasons. In fairness, the Brazilian had a decent game and was at least surging forward for the full 90 minutes in search of a decisive goal.
But what about Roma? Although their four month unbeaten run continues their title aspirations surely evaporated at the Olimpico. Six points behind Inter, which could turn into a very likely nine come Sunday evening. Despite their brave campaign, it will be their disastrous early league form which will be their downfall for the 2009/10 campaign. Considering they were at home, Roma really didn’t turn up and were banking on a quick counter-attack to see off Milan. And despite the Rossoneri’s wave of attacks you had the niggling feeling that the Romans were going to go down the other side and grab a winner. In the final seconds they nearly did after a rocket of a shot from John Arne Riise. Christian Abbiati saved well. There will most likely be more twists to the Serie A season. But Inter are back in the driving seat, and they will be heading off into the distance if they can win against Genoa at home.