Inter win to claim top spot, struggling Roma held
Inter Milan's Adem Ljajic scored a second-half goal to secure a 1-0 home win over Genoa and provisional top spot in Serie A on Saturday, while AS Roma lost ground after conceding a last-minute penalty in a 1-1 draw at Torino.
Inter picked themselves up from last weekend’s top of the table defeat by Napoli to leapfrog Maurizio Sarri’s side, while Roma were hit by Maxi Lopez's 94th minute equaliser for Torino 11 minutes after Miralem Pjanic had put the hosts in front.
Roberto Mancini's Inter, who made five changes from last weekend, started strongly and Ljajic had several chances, the best of which was batted away by Genoa keeper Mattia Perin in the last minute of first-half stoppage time.
Ljajic ultimately won the duel when he fired a 20-metre free kick into the far corner of Perin's net in the 59th, though Inter had to see out the match with 10 men following Danilo D'Ambrosio's 86th-minute sending off for a second yellow card.
"Changing things is good for the players. Icardi only missed two games out of 15 this season," Mancini told Sky Sport Italia.
"Ljajic proved himself at Roma and Fiorentina, he’s maturing now and can still do better. He scored the winning goal, but everyone contributed."
Inter have 33 points from 15 games but will again be a point behind Napoli if the latter win at Bologna on Sunday. Genoa are 15th on 16 points.
Chances were scarce during a cagey and occasionally ill-tempered contest in Turin, with injury-hit Roma not managing a single shot in the first half.
The game only truly came to life in the 83rd minute when Roma's Pjanic scored his seventh league goal this season, a free kick that evaded team mate Edin Dzeko but bounced straight in after being horribly misread by Torino keeper Daniele Padelli.
Roma’s defensive frailties have been exposed in recent defeats by Barcelona and Atalanta and complacency crept in again when defender back Kostas Manolas brought down Andrea Belotti and Lopez beat the recalled Wojciech Szczesny from the spot.
Roma are without a win in their last four matches in all competitions and, beyond the defensive concerns, Rudi Garcia’s side have lost the intensity and attacking dynamism that characterised their early season performances.
Forward Gervinho limped off 26 minutes into his comeback following three weeks out with a calf problem and has surely added his name to Roma’s burgeoning injury list.
"You just had to be in the changing room after the game to see the anger," Garcia told Mediaset Premium.
"Some (players) were shouting and saying it wasn’t possible. They were very disappointed, as am I, but we must look forward."
Roma stay fourth on 28, a point behind Fiorentina, with Torino eighth on 22 points.
There are seven games on Sunday, including Fiore at home to mid-table Udinese and AC Milan’s trip to struggling Carpi.