MILAN: Juventus came back from two goals down to claim a stunning 4-3 win at Roma on Sunday night and keep up their bid for Champions League football, while Inter Milan host Lazio aiming to retake top spot in Serie A.
Deservedly losing 3-1 in the 69th minute and having lost Federico Chiesa to injury in the first half, Juve were leading eight minutes later and held on to a thrilling victory to stay three points behind Atalanta, who sit fourth in the final Champions league spot and hammered Covid-hit Udinese 6-2.
“We showed our character, that when we’re in a difficult spot the team is there and shows itself,” said Mattia De Sciglio, who scored Juve’s winner. The win was all the more remarkable as soon after De Sciglio had lashed Juve ahead in front of a stunned Stadio Olimpico in Rome, Wojciech Szczesny saved Lorenzo Pellegrini’s penalty.
That was a disappointing end to the match for Italy midfielder Pellegrini, who had lapped up the roar of the home crowd eight minutes after the break when his sumptuous free-kick looked to have given Roma the third goal they needed to seal what would have been Jose Mourinho’s biggest win to date as coach of the capital club.
However after Manuel Locatelli’s free header cut the deficit with 20 minutes left, Roma collapsed, letting Dejan Kulusevski sweep in a leveller two minutes later which was confirmed after a lengthy VAR check for offside.
De Sciglio’s strike left the previously buoyant home support in complete disbelief and after Pellegrini fluffed his spot-kick they knew the game was up, despite Juve’s Matthijs de Ligt being sent off for handball after giving away the missed penalty.
Roma sit eighth, level on 32 points with Fiorentina and Lazio and nine behind Atalanta after a crushing blow in what as already been a disappointing campaign.
“It was 70 minutes of complete control... We did very well for 70 minutes, but after that it was a psychological collapse,” Mourinho told DAZN. “When you’re in the s***, you’re supposed to get back up and show what your made of, but there are people in the changing room here who are a bit too nice, a bit too weak.”
A busy day of Serie A football ends with Inter’s bid to move back into top spot against Lazio, the only team to beat the champions so far this season.
Simone Inzaghi faces his old club with his current team two points behind AC Milan, who strolled to a 3-0 win at Venezia in Sunday’s early match thanks to a Theo Hernandez brace.
After Zlatan Ibrahimovic tapped in an early opener, France full-back Hernandez rammed home Milan’s second shortly after the break when slid through by the impressive Rafael Leao before making absolutely sure of the points from the penalty spot just before the hour mark.
“Theo needs to have a very clear objective in his head: he has the talent, the quality and the strength to become one of the best left-backs in the world,” said Milan coach Pioli to DAZN.
Three points behind Inter are Napoli, whose faltering Serie A title hopes were kept alive by Andrea Petagna in a 1-0 win over Sampdoria.
Burly forward Petagna struck the winner with an uncharacteristically acrobatic bicycle kick just before half-time to keep Napoli -- missing a number of key players to Covid-19 infections and the Africa Cup of Nations -- just about in the hunt.
Inter have played two games fewer than Milan and Napoli after their match at Bologna on Thursday was not played due to Covid infections among the opposition squad.
This round of matches, which finishes with Bologna’s visit to struggling Cagliari on Tuesday night, will be the league’s last before stadium capacities are cut to 5,000 until after the next international break as Covid-19 infections surge in Italy.
Five games were not played over the last two rounds of fixtures after dozens of players contracted the virus, for which more than 1.8 million Italians are currently positive and which has killed over 138,000 in the country since early 2020.
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