AC Milan picked up their first win in more than a month to deal Roma’s Champions League qualification hopes a blow at the San Siro with a 2-1 victory. Marco van Ginkel’s first goal in Italian football gave the Rossoneri the lead before Mattia Destro, on loan at Milan from Roma, scored against his employers to double the hosts’ lead. Francesco Totti pulled one back from the penalty spot, but the Giallorossi could not find an equaliser as they missed an opportunity to consolidate second spot, allowing city rivals Lazio the opportunity to overtake them and Napoli to close to within two points on Sunday. While the Giallorossi had clambered back into second place, the hosts had only pride and dignity to play for, particularly Roma-owned Mattia Destro. Jeremy Menez and Mattia De Sciglio were suspended, missing Alessio Cerci, Riccardo Montolivo and Michael Essien. Douglas Maicon, Leandro Castan and Kevin Strootman didna t make the trip, but Francesco Totti was dropped again.
The Giallorossi dominated the game in the early stages, keeping the ball well and pinning the home side back in their own half. However, it was Milan that very nearly took the lead inside 15 minutes when Luca Antonelli played in Keisuke Honda. The Japanese international struck a dipping volley to force Morgan De Sanctis into an acrobatic save, tipping the ball over the bar. Rudi Garciaa s men responded promptly by hitting the post from a guided Kostas Manolas header which bounced at an awkward height for a sprawling Lopez. For all their possession in the first half, Roma struggled to create much in the way of chances, and it was the Rossoneri who finished the half stronger. A couple of openings down the right gave the visitors due warning of what was to come, as crosses from Destro and Honda had to be cleared and a Giacomo Bonaventura header was kept out by De Sanctis. But Roma didna t heed the warning signs, and five minutes before half time, Van Ginkel made his mark. The Dutchman was first to the ball with Radja Nainggolan slow to react, and slotted the ball home at the near post after Honda broke forward on a quick counter and crossed.
The second half got off to a slow start, but for a rasping Florenzi volley that didna t swerve quite enough to beat Lopez inside his near post. Milan added to their lead just before the hour mark when the on-loan Destro netted with a determined header. The way he celebrated suggested he has no intention of returning to the capital in the summer, even if Milan may not be able to match their asking price for the Italy international. Everything seemed to be going according to plan until Juan Iturbe’s path to goal was blocked by both Alex and Nigel De Jong. The referee pointed to the penalty spot and Totti, with a bit of luck, slotted the ball under Diego Lopez. It was game on again and Iturbe tested Lopez with a shot which the Milan goalkeeper did well to turn behind. The finale wasna t without tension though, as Inzaghi perhaps too worked up for the officialsa liking and was sent to the stands as Milan held on to an overdue three points. Filippo Inzaghi’s men withstood the late pressure well to pick up a win which revives their slim hopes of qualifying for Europe next season while denting Roma’s bid to finish second.
From a positive angle, it was an admirable effort from the Rossoneri to claim all three points and give the fans something to cheer about. With Sassuolo, Torino and Atalanta now awaiting between now and the end of the year, it is hoped that Inzaghi can put a few more smiles on faces before his possible exit. Meanwhile, the visitors will feel as though they had the opportunities to come away with something, as the pressure certainly weighed heavily on Milan in the closing stages.