Radja Nainggolan steals the show as Roma trounce Inter Milan
Two incredible strikes from a world-class Radja Nainggolan saw Roma win an huge encounter with Internazionale at the San Siro and strengthen their grip on second place in Serie A.
Nainggolan set the Giallorossi on their way by finishing a swift 12th-minute counter-attack with a curler that arced around a helpless Samir Handanovic, before doubling Roma's lead with an even better hit 11 minutes after the break following a 60-yard surge up the field. The Belgian was the best of a hugely impressive Roma bunch, as Luciano Spalletti's team stamped their authority on Inter from the get go, with Kevin Strootman excellent up against Roberto Gagliardini and Federico Fazio keeping Mauro Icardi largely quiet.
The win is even more impressive for the way Inter came back at Roma, pulling a goal back through Icardi with nine minutes left after being denied a clear penalty for a Strootman foul on Eder, but Edin Dzeko drew a daft, knee-high tackle from Gary Medel just four minutes later, allowing substitute Diego Perotti to embarrass Handanovic from the spot to seal a massive win.
Roma are now five points ahead of third-placed Napoli ahead of next week's visit from the Partenopei, meaning that Wednesday's Rome derby Coppa Italia semifinal can get their full attention without worrying so much about what lies ahead.
Another great performance in a big match away from home that was won on defensive resilience, along with Nainggolan's wonder goals. Inter came rattling back at Roma in the second half and it took some last ditch clearances (and some fortuitous refereeing decisions) to keep the home side out. The discipline and organisation of this team, as well as its obvious spirit, is what's exciting Romanisti. The title might be out of reach, but two cups are up for grabs, and Roma should be aiming for both.
It's hard to pick out much after such an important win, but on another night Roma could have easily given away a penalty thanks to their "enthusiastic" tackling. Toning it down a bit wouldn't have hurt.
Manager rating out of 10
7 -- Spalletti has his team working so well that he can just send them out with all the players knowing what to do. When Juan Jesus comes in for Emerson Palmieri at the last minute and no one notices the difference, that's a sign that the work on the training ground is paying off.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Wojciech Szczesny, 6 -- Mostly kept out of danger by his backline, but his late charge down of Eder showed how alert the Pole is.
DF Antonio Rudiger, 7 -- A powerful display from the German that is marked down for him completely losing Icardi for the Argentine's goal.
DF Federico Fazio, 8 -- Brilliant again at the heart of the defence. Started the night with a superb tackle on Icardi and improved from there.
DF Kostas Manolas 7 -- Apart from some slightly odd, aimless forays with the ball, the Greek was a rock alongside Fazio.
MF Bruno Peres, 7 -- Up and down the flank like a proper wing-back. Defensive improvement highlighted by an incredible block on an Ivan Perisic shot just five minutes after the break.
MF Kevin Strootman, 8 -- Extremely lucky not to give away a penalty for a clear foul on Eder.
MF Daniele De Rossi, 7 -- Another solid display protecting the back three, even if he too often looks for the Hollywood solution.
MF Juan Jesus, 7 -- Doesn't offer the attacking presence that Emerson Palmieri does, but the Brazilian was quietly effective on the left.
MF Radja Nainggolan, 10 -- Beyond the incredible strikes, the Belgian was all over the pitch, crashing through Inter's midfield like an attack dog.
MF Mohamed Salah, 6 -- A relatively quiet evening for the Egyptian, who was neat and tidy rather than his usual explosive self.
FW Edin Dzeko, 6 -- Struggled all night to escape the tensions of Medel, but finally got the better of his marker in winning the penalty was only denied his customary goal by a sensational Handanovic save.
MF Diego Perotti, N/R -- Almost slalomed past the whole Inter team on the break just after coming on, and slotted home the winning spot kick in a cheekiest of manners.
MF Leandro Paredes, N/R -- Five minutes at the end in place of De Rossi. A shame he doesn't get more game time.
DF Thomas Vermaelan, N/R -- Brought on to bolster the defence just after Perotti bagged the third.
Terry is based in Rome and is ESPN FC's AS Roma blogger. Twitter: @T_Daley