AS Roma reign in the capital once more as Mancini ends long wait for victory over Lazio

A Gianluca Mancini header was enough to secure derby victory for AS Roma over Lazio on Serie A Matchday 31, with tempers predictably flaring as the minutes ticked by.

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STADIO OLIMPICO (Rome): The long wait is over. At the first time of asking, Daniele De Rossi endeared himself even more to his adoring AS Roma faithful by hurdling an obstacle Jose Mourinho so often tripped up on – winning the Rome Derby.

Gianluca Mancini’s header late in the first half proved enough for the Giallorossi to claim their first Derby della Capitale victory in more than two years, ending a four-match winless run in which they had failed to even score a goal.

The result not only propelled De Rossi even higher in the supporters’ estimations, but it stretched the gap between the two sides to nine points – far too large a gulf to be bridged in the final seven games of the season, barring something extraordinary.

Igor Tudor has had the most challenging of first weeks in the job, facing Juventus twice before Roma, and he will leave the Olimpico on Saturday knowing a lot of work must be done to get this side playing in his image after a contest where Lazio struggled to impose themselves.

Lukaku Roma Lazio
AS Roma’s Romelu Lukaku and Lazio’s Christos Mandas. [@OfficialASRoma]

Rome stops for hotly-anticipated derby clash

The tranquillity of a beautiful day of April sunshine and pastel-blue skies was broken by mid-afternoon as the stadium filled up early for a game nobody wanted to miss a moment of.

A Rome Derby is never a quiet affair, but Saturday’s felt particularly raucous as the Roma support – at ‘home’ for this game – roared out their anthems as they looked to inspire their side to a first derby victory since March 2022.

The energy seemed to rub off on the Lupi players, who started with fire in their bellies as Angelino and Leandro Paredes saw early sighters go not far off target.

De Rossi’s side had their rivals pinned back throughout the opening stages but couldn’t find a way through as Diego Llorente’s shot took an awkward deflection off Alessio Romagnoli but trickled wide of the post and Christos Mandas unconvincingly parried a Lorenzo Pellegrini effort.

Lazio looked more comfortable as the minutes ticked on and got themselves into some good areas but were also unable to convert, Ciro Immobile hitting the side-netting from a decent position and Matias Vecino seeing a couple of efforts blocked.

Zeki Celik squandered a big chance when he bounced a header into the ground and over from a good cross by the industrious Angelino.

But the Romanisti didn’t have to wait much longer to celebrate the opener, which came when Mancini headed home a Paulo Dybala corner in the 42nd minute.

Dybala Roma Lazio Vecino
AS Roma’s Paulo Dybala and Lazio’s Matias Vecino. [@OfficialASRoma]

Tudor’s changes fail to bring Lazio joy

Tudor rang the changes at the interval after an unconvincing first 45 minutes from his side, bringing in Patric, Taty Castellanos and Pedro – the latter to loud boos as he faced his former employers once more.

But the changes didn’t spark a turnaround as Roma continued to look the more threatening, coming inches away from a second after 54 minutes when Stephan El Shaarawy was sent one-on-one by a charging Romelu Lukaku, only for his angled finish to cannon back off the inside of the post.

There was one sign of life from the Biancocelesti when Daichi Kamada stopped a Matteo Guendouzi shot almost on the line and tapped in, but the flag was raised in an easy decision for the assistant referee.

The officials soon had more trouble on their hands when Guendouzi and Paulo Dybala had each other by the throat as tempers flared on the pitch, and the yellow card count continued to rise with regular pushing and shoving going on off the ball.

Amid all the blood and thunder, Lazio had found their feet and were playing most of the game deep in Roma territory, only to find their moves breaking down around the edge of the area as they failed to test Mile Svilar.

Pellegrini Dybala Roma home
AS Roma’s Lorenzo Pellegrini and Paulo Dybala celebrate. [@ASRomaEN]

Tammy Abraham returns as AS Roma hold onto victory

Roma’s hopes were boosted when Tammy Abraham came on for the final 10 minutes for his first appearance of the season after a long injury lay-off, and the Englishman was warmly received by the home crowd as he looked to make his mark after being out since June 2023.

The closing stages were racked with nerves, but the quality had drained out of the game long ago and Lazio showed no signs of clawing back a late equaliser before Marco Guida mercifully sounded his whistle.

It sparked an outpouring of joy from the Olimpico stands as they celebrated victory over their biggest rivals once more, and Mancini was in the thick of things again as he grabbed a banner from the stands and paraded it in front of a euphoric Curva Sud.

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