Serie A - Inter hold Roma at Olimpico

Serie A, Stadio Olimpico - Roma 1 (Totti pen. 22) Internazionale 1 (Palacio 45)

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Serie A - Guarin wants a focused Inter
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Inter Milan's Rodrigo Palacio (2nd R) celebrates with teammate Fredy Guarin after scoring against AS Roma during their Italian Serie A soccer match at the Olympic stadium in Rome January 20, 2013.

Roma missed an opportunity to jump back above Milan into sixth as they were held to a 1-1 draw by a stubborn Internazionale at Stadio Olimpico.

The Giallorossi dominated large parts of the game but could not find a breakthrough against Inter – who they will face twice more in January in both legs of the Coppa Italia semi-final.

The point means Inter remain fourth – nine points off league-leaders Juventus – though Andrea Stramaccioni will have been the happier of the two managers with top-scorer Diego Milito and Antonio Cassano both unavailable and youthful replacements Marko Livaja and Rodrigo Palacio impressing.

The home side started brightly and captain Francesco Totti put them ahead from the spot after 20 minutes before Inter battled back through Palacio on the stroke of half-time.

Both sides had chances to win it after the break but Roma enjoyed the better possession, with Inter goalkeeper Samir Handanovic reacting superbly to deny Erik Lamela seven minutes from time.  

From the first 20 minutes it looked like Inter were in for a long evening as they struggled to get anything going, with the rampaging Federico Balzaretti causing all sorts of problems for the visiting side down the left wing.

Dangerman Pablo Daniel Osvaldo fired wide in the opening exchanges as Roma looked for an early breakthrough, with a Totti and Lamela mix-up then wasting a good opportunity for Zdenek Zeman’s side to take the lead.

Such was Roma’s early dominance that Inter were limited to hopeful balls from deep, and soon the hosts had made their control of possession pay as they won a penalty as the energetic Michael Bradley went down under Andrea Ranocchia’s challenge after 20 minutes.

Inter were aggrieved as contact looked minimal at best but Totti made no mistake from 12 yards, sending Handanovic the wrong way with a powerful drive into the top left-hand corner.

Rather than spur the hosts on for a second, the penalty revived the Nerazzurri, with in-form Fredy Guarin flashing wide before Marko Livaja turned his marker and fired a shot against the woodwork on 36 minutes.

The visitors ended the half in the ascendancy and they found the breakthrough just before the interval, Guarin capitalising on a poor clearance and sending a dangerous pass across goal for Palacio to poke home from six yards out.

Roma looked shell-shocked and took 10 minutes to reassert themselves in the second half as the heavy tackles mounted in an increasingly scrappy encounter.

Guarin and Livaja were causing Roma problems and the latter fired inches wide on 70 minutes after cutting inside from the left wing.

But Roma ended the match strongly as Inter tired in the closing stages, with Giallorossi right-back Ivan Piris squandering two glaring chances in quick succession with 15 minutes remaining.

In the end it was a fine Handanovic save on 83 minutes which earned Inter a point, the lofty Slovenian keeper getting down superbly to thwart a low Lamela drive after the Argentine had lost his defender on the edge of the area.

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