Attention romanisti: This isn't a dream. AS Roma are top of the Serie A table. Seven wins in seven rounds. Twenty one points. Twenty goals scored, to just one conceded. Perfect. Magical. Unstoppable?
Inter Milan certainly had no way of stopping Roma on Saturday night. The scoreline might lead you to believe the hosts played horribly, but in fact the nerazzurri had most of the ball, more shots, and plenty of chances. Roma simply played like the more mature team. Rudi Garcia's masterpiece is that he's assembled his squad into a near-perfect machine. They can attack, but they can also soak up the other team's pressure. The visitors had just five shots on goal, scoring three and forcing two miraculous saves from Samir Handanovic.
Both teams started the game looking to create chances through swift attacks up the pitch. Inter was spent a little more time on Roma's side of the pitch, but they were still careful not to give the lupi too many chances for counters. But the nerazzurri could hold out just 18 minutes. Then Gervinho set up Francesco Totti, who sent a ball behind Handanovic's back from 20 meters away.
Roma continued to exert control on the match, but Inter found themselves with two great chances to equalize before the half hour mark. Freddy Guarin fired a missile that ricocheted of the post. Soon after, Ricardo Alvarez's header was saved on the goal line by Morgan De Sanctis.
Inter increased their pressure, playing perfectly into Roma's hands. Somewhere on the sidelines, Rudi Garcia wore an evil grin. Or we imagine he did, anyway.
At 41st minute, Gervinho stood once more in the center of attention. He took the ball up the right, passing two Inter defenders before Alvaro Pereira fouled him right on the edge of the penalty area. Referee Paolo Tagliavento made the decision to award a penalty, Totti converted, and Inter found themselves in all kinds of trouble.
Just three minutes later, Roma pulled off a brilliant counter attack off an Inter corner. Totti won the ball and fed it to Kevin Strootman, who raced up the pitch before sending the pass to Alessandro Florenzi. Florenzi's shot from the right flew across Handanovic and into the back of the net for Roma's third on the night.
After Roma went up by three in the first half, the second half was bound to be less exciting. Mazzarri replaced Pereira with Mauro Icardi in hopes of getting Inter back in the game. But it was Roma who threatened first, Florenzi volleying in off a ball from Strootman and forcing Handanovic to make a fantastic save. Andrea Ranocchia did manage to score for Inter in the 67th minute, but the goal was disallowed for an alleged foul on Morgan De Sanctis.
The match ended with Roma playing out their final ten minutes down a man, after Federico Balzaretti shown a second yellow for a foul on Alvarez. By that point, however, Inter were worn down and unable to take advantage of their extra man.
Inter Milan (3-5-1-1): Samir Handanovic; Rolando, Andrea Ranocchia, Juan Jesus; Yuto Nagatomo, Freddy Guarin (Diego Milito 70'), Esteban Cambiasso, Saphir Taider (Mateo Kovacic 57'), Alvaro Pereira (Mauro Icardi 46'); Ricardo Alvarez; Rodrigo Palacio
AS Roma (4-3-3): Morgan De Sanctis; Vasilis Torosidis, Mehdi Benatia, Leandro Castan, Federico Balzaretti; Miralem Pjanic (Rodrigo Tadei 57'), Daniele De Rossi, Kevin Strootman; Gervinho, Francesco Totti (Dodo 80'), Alessandro Florenzi (Marquinho 76')
Goals: Francesco Totti 18', Francesco Totti 41', Alessandro Florenzi 44'
Red card: Federico Balzaretti 80'