Week 25 of the 2007-08 Serie A season saw Italy’s top two go head-to-head as Roberto Mancini’s Inter welcomed Luciano Spalletti’s Roma to the Giuseppe Meazza, with the Romans out for revenge.
The last time these two met back in September 2007, Roma were handed a footballing lesson as Inter thrashed them 4-1 at the Stadio Olimpico. Since then, Inter had pushed on and remarkably remain undefeated going into this clash. As for Roma, they had tasted defeat just twice since September’s massacre, at the hands of Siena and later Juventus in week 23.
Spearheaded by Franceso Totti, the visitors started the brighter and pressed in search of an early goal. Roma’s Capitano himself was unlucky not to open the scoring, as Marco Cassetti’s driven cross was plucked off his feet by the brilliance of Inter’s Brazilian goalkeeper, Julio Cesar.
The Nerazzurri’s first real sight of goal came in the form of Hernan Crespo, albeit it was a mere half-chance, as he blazed over from long range. Moments later, the home fans were almost treated to a goal of pure class, after some skillful improvisation from Patrick Vieira set up Crespo, who’s acrobatic scissor kick beat the dive of Doni, but not the woodwork, as the ball struck the post and rolled across the Roma goal-line and out for a goal kick.
With both sides having chances to open the scoring, first blood eventually went to Spalletti’s Roma courtesy of who else but Francesco Totti. The goal owed much to Max Tonetto’s cross from the left, which allowed the Giallorossi’s number 10 to make his run across the front of Inter captain Javier Zanetti, and expertly guide the ball home. Advantage Roma.
With the half drawing to a close, the Inter faithful watched in disbelief as Nicolas Burdisso somehow powered his header over from a Luis Figo corner – all he had to do was hit the target to tie things up at the break.
With Totti on the score sheet, ‘The King of Rome’ was clearly in the mood and some neat trickery set Simone Perrotta on his way. Unselfishly, Perrotta squared the ball to Alberto Aquilani, who’s effort forced Cesar into a brilliant save to keep Inter alive in the match. The Brazilian stopper was at it again as Roma poured forward. This time Vucinic set up Perrotta, yet Cesar was equal to the Italian midfielder’s effort as he pushed it wide.
With Roma in complete control, it seemed only a matter of time before they doubled their lead. But Aquilani was guilty of profligacy once again after the Italian international failed to hit the target following some neat combination play between Vucinic and Totti. Next to take aim in Roma shooting practice was Daniele De Rossi, however he pulled his long-range effort wide of the scrambling Cesar’s goal.
The Giallorossi would live to rue their wastefulness and the match would turn on its head going into the final five minutes. With Roma in complete control, 60 seconds of madness from fiery French defender, Philippe Mexes, gave Inter the encouragement they needed. Two stupid tackles under the nose of Roberto Rosetti gave the referee no choice but to show Mexes two quick fire yellow cards, reducing the visitors to 10 men.
Inter began to wrestle back control and the extra man advantage soon paid off, as Javier Zanetti levelled the game in the dying stages. The same battle that had played out for the first goal was repeated, but this time it was Zanetti who got the better of Totti, beating his opponent to the ball and sending a thunderous volley past Doni. The goal cued delirium among Interisti and it was a point that felt more like three, as Inter marched towards another Scudetto.
Inter once again welcome Roma to Milano on Sunday night, hoping to build on last weekend’s victory at Bologna. As for Roma, they’ll be looking for a repeat of the reverse fixture, which Spalletti’s men won 2-1 back in October.