This year’s first edition of the Derby della Capitale within match-week 13 of the Serie A was an action-packed showdown filled with plenty of emotions and unexpected sequence of events. With a spot into next year’s Champions League potentially at stake, sparks flared as several altercations occurred between both benches, staff members were sent off the pitch, and countless cards were given across both squads. After almost 100 minutes of open play within the Stadio Olimpico, it was Lazio who conquered the capital city in a 1-0 victory over bitter rivals Roma
Within the opening minutes, Roma started on the front-foot as they pressed high and used the width of the pitch when in-possession.
It only took two minutes for Mourinho’s side to get a glimpse of goal as Guinean international Mady Camara cut out Danilo Cataldi’s pass and burst with pace to find Tammy Abraham. The English talisman’s attempt on goal was easily diffused by Ivan Provedel.
A strong challenge by Gianluca Mancini following a poor first-touch from Spainard Luis Alberto paved the way for the Giallorossi to break on the counter shortly after. Italian internationals Nicolo Zaniolo and Lorenzo Pellegrini combined within the final third, enabling the 23 year-old attacker to break the lines with a brilliant first touch. However, his low-driven shot went wide of the mark.
After a difficult ten minutes for Lazio following the opening whistle, I Biancocelesti eased into the game as they circulated the ball through the middle and finding openings out-wide through Manuel Lazzari. Despite the threat posed by Sarri’s side, Central defender Chris Smalling anticipated the plays in a fine and elegant manner.
Roma also attempted to break the lines along the flanks as Camara distributed some well-weighted passes towards wing-backs Nicola Zalewski and Rick Karsdorp into space, but Lazio’s defensive shape remained compact and unfazed.
In the 29th minute, Lazio broke the deadlock as Spanish winger Pedro pressed high on Roger Ibanez while Roma was building the play from their box. The Brazilian defender was caught off-guard as he was stripped the ball, enabling Pedro to square the ball to Felipe Anderson.
The 29 year-old remained composed while facing the keeper without any sort of defensive pressure and tucked the ball into the low-corner in order to seal the opener for Sarri’s side.
Towards the end of the first half, Karsdorp distributed a brilliant through ball to find Abrham up-top. The 25 year-old used his immense strength to hold up the play and link up with Zaniolo. The rising Italian star latched on the ball well and fired a missile on the frame of the goal, forcing Mourinho’s side to end the first 45 trailing to their cross-city rivals.
After the break, Roma resumed the pitch with a very high-tempo as they seeked an early equalizer within the match.
Pellegrini launched a threatening cross from a free-kick position, but stopper Alessandro Romagnoli alleviated the stress as he headed the ball away for a corner. The skipper found Smalling along the second post from the corner kick, but the Englishman’s header went narrowly wide.
After only seven minutes of the second half, Pellegrini was forced off the pitch due to what seemed to be a muscular strain. Consequently, Mourinho brought on 18 year-old Italian prospect Christian Volpalto onto the pitch.
With the 27 year-old absent from the central park, Lazio had much more ease of finding spaces through their swift passing combinations and movements. Luis Alberto glided through the midfield on several occasions, but the Giallorossi’s water-tight back-line closed the space quickly.
Despite Mourinho’s side suffering a major blow as their skipper was forced to watch the remainder of the match from the side-lines, Roma showed grit as they were determined to make the score-line level.
A switch of play from Celik paved the way for Zaniolo to strike on goal from a wide angle, but Romagnoli blocked the Italian forward from getting any closer to the goal with a brilliant sliding challenge.
While continuously pushing forward in order to obtain , a cleared corner kick caught Roma’s defense as Matteo Cancellieri brought the ball down with a fine headed touch and exploded with anchors of space in front of him.
The 23 year-old pulled the ball back towards the edge of the box to find Felipe Anderson. The Brazilian’s venomous strike was miraculously saved by Patricio after some impressive acrobatics.
Mourinho made a flurry of subsitiutions in order to shift the tide of momentum, bringing on Stephan El Sharaarwy, Nemanja Matic, and Andrea Belotti. The Giallorossi found several openings as through the youngster Volpato, but Mouirnho’s men lacked the finishing touch.
With eight minutes added after the 90th minute mark, Roma went full-fledged within the offensive phase as they fired crosses from out-wide from all cylinders. However, I Biancocelesti remained strong defensively, avoiding any significant goal-scoring opportunities.
After a hard fought defensive display, it was Lazio who sealed all three points, washing the city of Rome in eternal blue. As it stands, Sarri’s squad have climbed into third with a total of 27 points. Meanwhile, Roma have dropped to fifth as they contain 25 points, one point ahead of Inter who possess a game in-hand.