Szczesny redeems self from blunder with penalty save, Nainggolan scores as Roma nips AC Milan
Radia Nainggolan chalks up the game's only goal in the 62nd minute. AP

MILAN — Roma won the battle for second place in Serie A as it beat AC Milan 1-0 on Monday to move three points clear of the Rossoneri and four behind league leader Juventus.

Radja Nainggolan scored the only goal shortly after the hour. Roma goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny saved a first-half penalty from M'Baye Niang.

Roma visits Juventus on Saturday.

"What was important was to win and we showed character because Milan was well organized," Nainggolan said. "Last year maybe we didn't win these kind of games, even if we played better. But this year we have more character, we have an aim and we want to believe in ourselves.

"We'll have to fight also in Turin and we'll play to win."

Milan, which is one point above fourth-placed Napoli, hosts Atalanta in the next round.

"It's an undeserved defeat, Roma was lucky," Milan coach Vincenzo Montella said. "But we are on the right path. And we are at a good point: the Europa League is our aim."

Montella had mixed thoughts over the failed penalty.

"Before the match I repeated to the team that (Niang) would still be the penalty taker, because I think he's the one who shoots the best," he said. "Who will take the next one? There's time, we'll see."

Both Roma and Milan were locked on 32 points going into the match in Rome, which got off to a frantic start. Milan goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma had his gloves stung by a rocket from Edin Dzeko, while Milan went close too on the counter.

Roma was dominating while Milan appeared content to sit back and try to surprise the home side on the counter. That tactic almost paid off in the 27th minute.

Gianluca Lapadula ran onto Andrea Bertolacci's pass, prodding it as Szczesny came for the ball and the Roma goalkeeper took his ankles instead, resulting in a penalty.

Niang had seen his penalty saved by Crotone goalkeeper Alex Cordaz in the last round but the Frenchman stepped up again, only for Szczesny to redeem himself by blocking the spot kick.

Dzeko almost gave Roma the lead in the 36th as he beat the offside trap to run onto Antonio Rudiger's long ball but sent his effort wide of the far post.

Roma broke the deadlock in the 62nd when Kostas Manolas headed a ball down to Nainggolan, who raced toward goal before curling a delightful effort into the left side of the net from just outside the area.


The final stages of the match were played out at a furious tempo but without any real goalscoring opportunities.

The only negative note for Roma was the sight of Bruno Peres being stretchered off in tears toward the end of the first half after injuring his left leg.


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