Roma Keep Title Dreams Alive with Smash and Grab Win Over Fiorentina
The Milanesi duopoly at the top of Serie A was finally broken yesterday as Roma climbed above AC Milan into second place.
Milan could only manage a draw against Bologna, their fourth match in a row without a win, while Roma continued their magnificent recent form, making it 19 matches without defeat for Claudio Ranieri's men.
Fiorentina came closer than most to ending that run, however, and while the 1-0 scoreline is the vital statistic, all the others seemed to be in the home side's favour.
Fiorentina began the game, Roma's 17th defence of Barney Corkhill's Unofficial World Club Championship (UWCC ), as they meant to go on.
Having lost three of their previous five games, and not won in the past three, they looked intent on stopping the rot before it had a chance to do serious damage.
But they, ultimately, ended up as just another victim of Ranieri's rampant Roma, though not without some controversy.
The game saw it's first major talking point in the 20th minute, and it was one that had a profound affect on the game.
A deflected shot from Riccardo Montolivo pinballed it's way to an unmarked Juan Vargas inside the penalty area, and the Peruvian proceeded to almost shove a teammate out of his way before slotting it past Julio Sergio.
The celebrations were cut short, however, as the lineman's flag went up immediately.
Replays showed that Vargas was, in fact, onside after both deflections, and that the goal should have stood. The luck, it seemed, was with Roma.
Yet this didn't deter Fiorentina, and they continued to pile on the pressure, with Vargas in particular proving a handful for the Roma defence.
He had another effort well saved by Julio Sergio before unleashing a stunning volley at the far post, only for the same man to deny him again.
The Roma shot-stopper had no time to congratulate himself, though, as just seconds later a 30-yard effort by Manuel Pasqual called him into action once again. Not for the first time, however, he was equal to it.
The Fiorentina pressure was relentless, and anyone just watching the performances of the two sides would be forgiven for thinking it was the home side who had gone 18 matches unbeaten.
Julio Sergio had to be on his toes again when Gilardino flicked a long ball onto Stevan Jovetic, who proceeded to volley it from an acute angle, forcing another good save.
Attacks for Roma were few and far between, but when they got a corner at the end of the half, they must have thought that they could buy some time at the very least.
They were mistaken, however, as Fiorentina skipper Riccardo Montolivo won the ball inside his own box, and embarked on a counter-attacking run which took him to Roma's penalty area.
He unselfishly laid the ball off to Lorenzo De Silvestri, but the Fiorentina defender's lung-busting run proved futile as he sliced the ball high and wide of the Roma goal.
After one of the worst first half performances he would have seen recently, Ranieri decided to take severe action, withdrawing the Roma talisman Francesco Totti for Julio Baptista, and the Brazilian was involved just minutes later as Roma created their first real chance of the match.
A wonderful first time ball found Baptista on the left flank, and his pass inside allowed John Arne Riise to get to the byline. His pull-back was perfect, and Mirko Vucinic looked for all the world like he was going to finish the move off.
As it transpired, Vucinic completely miscued his shot, and after a dominant first half, Fiorentina found themselves thankful to not be 1-0 down.
Just minutes later it was Roma entertaining that thought as Gilardino was thwarted by Julio Sergio when through on goal.
The Roma keeper was enjoying a busy game, and he was called into action yet again after 75 minutes. Gilardino's powerful header testing his reactions, but it was the brilliant Brazilian who once again won the duel.
Gilardino was beginning to look ominous as the game wore on and, coupled with the excellent Jovetic behind him, the home fans would have surely been quietly confident of breaking the deadlock sooner or later.
These two combined again with just over 10 minutes left as Jovetic sent in a wicked low ball, only for Gilardino's touch to be too deft.
Chance after chance had fallen to the hosts, with only one arriving at Roma's door, but football is a fickle game and the Giallorossi took full advantage of that with a classic "smash and grab" goal with just eight minutes remaining.
David Pizarro's corner was flicked on by Phillipe Mexes to Vucinic, who controlled the ball inside the box.
The Montenegrin did what his compatriot Jovetic couldn't and smashed the ball in from close range.
The visitors held out for the rest of the match, and celebrated a massive, albeit undeserving, victory which took them into second place.
The victory is also their eighth in a row, which equals Chelsea's UWCC record. Vucinic's sixth UWCC goal also makes him the equal fifth highest scorer in the competition's history.
83.3 percent of voters in the poll correctly predicted that Roma would either win or draw against Fiorentina, so well done to the majority once again!
Barney's prediction: Roma win (1-0) Actual Result: Roma win (1-0)
Correct prediction streak: Four matches in a row!
Roma 2-1 Fulham (Roma become new champions)
Fiorentina 0-1 Roma
( Click here to see the complete history of Barney Corkhill's Unofficial World Club Championship)
Roma's next title defence comes on Saturday as they host fifth place Palermo in Serie A.
Form Book (last five matches): Roma - WWWWW; Palermo - LDWLW
Barney's prediction: Roma 1-0 Palermo
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What are you predictions for this upcoming fixture? Can Palermo, performing well in Serie A, dent Roma's title aspirations? Could they possibly become the best side in the world?!
Voice your opinions in the comments section!
Video highlights of Fiorentina 0-1 Roma can be seen here .
Where would it be now?
This week, "Where would it be now?" continues to track the alternative route of the UWCC title from the start of the season!
Last time we saw that Hull beating Chelsea would have resulted in Chelsea eventually regaining the title. But where would it be if Sunderland had beaten Chelsea on Aug. 18, 2009.
Sunderland would have lost the title to Stoke on Aug. 29, 2009.
Stoke would have lost the title to Chelsea on Sept. 12, 2009.
Chelsea would have lost the title to Wigan on Sept. 26, 2009.
Wigan would have lost the title to Hull on Oct. 3, 2009.
Hull would have lost the title to Fulham on Oct. 19, 2009.
Fulham would have lost the title to Roma on Nov. 5, 2009.
Roma would still have the title!
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