Milan Manager Leonardo praised his side's “incredible spirit” as they came from behind to beat Roma 2-1 at the San Siro on Sunday evening.
A Ronaldinho penalty and Alexandre Pato's third goal of the season were enough to see off a resurgent Roma and allowed Milan to record only their fourth league win of the season.
Jeremy Menez opened the scoring for the visitors, latching onto a defensive error by Thiago Silva in the fourth minute, whilst elsewhere Roma boss Claudio Raneiri declared the refereeing decisions “a disgrace”, his side leading until the awarding of a questionable second-half penalty.
For most of the early stages Roma were the more dominant side, capitalising on a number of mistakes in the Milan Defence. On twenty minutes a powerful De Rossi shot from outside the box needed helping round the post by Dida. Milan eventually settled and managed to create their own spell of pressure towards the end of the first half, Seedorf coming closest with a shot on the turn in the six yard box which was tipped onto the post by Doni. It was the Roma goalkeeper's first game back after a lengthy break from injury.
A sprained ankle for Ignazio Abate forced a half time reshuffle for Leonardo, with veteran striker Filippo Inzaghi coming on and Milan switching to 4-3-3. The change almost had an instant effect, Inzaghi's powerful header blocked at the near post from a corner a minute after the restart.
The breakthrough for Milan came only ten minutes later: Roma failed to clear the ball from a corner and it broke to Nesta heading away from goal. Nicolas Burdisso slid in and despite looking to get a foot on the ball found himself conceding a penalty. Coach Raneiri noted: “Looking at the footage, it looks as if Burdisso got the ball. It's difficult to tell, but the ball clearly changes direction.” Ronaldinho blasted the penalty in the bottom left corner, the keeper inches away from getting a hand on it.
The goal galvanised both the home team and fans, the curva sud suddenly finding their voice. The decisive goal came in the 66th minute, Ronaldinho playing a long ball over the top of the Roma defence for Pato. Peeling off from the left-back, the striker's first touch took him around the keeper and his second saw him slot the ball cooly into the empty net.
The game then entered a particularly scrappy period of play with a number of yellow cards being flourished for both sides, culminating in a second yellow for Ambrossini, awarded for trailing an elbow when jumping with Phillippe Mexes.
Roma's best chance for an equalizer fell to De Rossi, 15 minutes from time, but after bringing the ball down brilliantly within the Milan area he fired his volley inches over the bar.
The result brings to an end Raneiri's unbeaten start at Roma boss, whilst for Milan it lifts them to eighth in the table. After a difficult start to his role as coach, Leonardo will be relieved with the victory. Said the Milan boss: “I think the most important thing today was the incredible spirit. It's not just three points for us, it's proof we can fight back and achieve things that we didn't think were possible”
John McManus is the winner of our bwin blogger competition and will be writing for The Independent from a number of events across Europe over the coming weeksReuse content