There were a couple of compelling and down-to-the-wire matches in this round, but the most anticipated one did not disappoint, even though it was not the highest scoring one, so Roma-Milan gets the shout-out.
Roma were coming off four hellish days, as they wasted a three-nothing lead against Atalanta in Serie A play and more importantly were smoked by Fiorentina in Coppa Italia. The vultures have started gathering over Eusebio Di Francesco’s head, even though the recent results were actually fine, but obviously a 1-7 loss in a big black eye. Quite the opposite for Milan, who immediately reaped the benefits on their investment on Krzysztof Piatek, who carried them past Napoli in the domestic cup, and had tied with the Azzurri in the previous round.
Bryan Cristante and Steven N’Zonzi were both suspended, but the Giallorossi could count on Daniele De Rossi returning to the XI after over 90 days. The coach chose a 4-3-3 with an odd front-line composed by Patrik Schick, Edin Dzeko and Alessandro Florenzi. As usual, Gennaro Gattuso stuck to his guns and deployed the same tactic, starting Piatek alongside Suso and Hakan Calhanoglu up front.
La Lupa conducted the dances for the majority of the game, but the Rossoneri were constantly lurking. Lorenzo Pellegrini initiated the first two chances, first with a crisp free kick deflected over the bar by Tiemoué Bakayoko, then feeding Edin Dzeko in the box, but the striker’s attempt, after waltzing past a defender, was brilliantly saved by Gianluigi Donnarumma.
Roma’s midfielder was an unlucky protagonist in the 0-1 goal, as he was stripped by Lucas Paquetà near the base line and the Brazilian newcomer sent in a low cross that Piatek poked home beating Federico Fazio to the punch at the 26th minute.
Donnarumma took centre-stage from here on out and started his show by palming away a sharp cross-shot by Nicolò Zaniolo. He then superbly denied both the opposing strikers, first saving parrying a Schick’s header destined to the bottom left corner with an incredible dive and then rushing on Dzeko on the rebound.
However, the goalkeeper’s miracles could not prevent the home team to deservedly equalize at the beginning of the second half: he did put his hands on a goofy deflection by Mateo Musacchio, but Zaniolo was in perfect position to punch it in the empty net. However, he was clutch again minutes later on a Dzeko’s splendid header on a corner kick. A little later, Pellegrini beat him with a high arching header, but it hit the far post.
Despite few offensive chances by Di Francesco, who put in both Stephan El Shaarawy and Justin Kluivert, the Devil had the final chance of the game, with Diego Laxalt challenging Robin Olsen from inside the box, but the goalie answered the bell.
Milan and Roma remain separated by one point, with the Rossoneri in sole possession of the fourth spot and four points behind the reeling Inter. Not much glory in the fantasy game: only the goal scorers gathered points, Piatek four and Zaniolo three because he was booked.
Do you have what it takes to challenge the best Serie A Fantasy Managers? If you’re up for it play seriea-fantasy.com now!