KEITA BALDE STRUCK twice as Lazio ruined Francesco Totti’s final derby as a player on Sunday with a thrilling 3-1 win over Roma that could also jeopardise their push for a top-two finish in Serie A.
Roma hosted their city rivals looking to maintain their fading title challenge to leaders Juventus after a 2-2 at Atalanta Saturday took their lead to nine points with four games remaining.
But Juve’s slip-up wasn’t enough to entice Roma on what should have been Totti’s derby farewell as his final season in Italy’s top flight draws to a close.
Luciano Spalletti’s men physically turned up at the Stadio Olimpico, but mentally looked elsewhere as they struggled to impose their usual, fast-flowing game against a Lazio side battling for a place in Europe.
Roma remain nine points behind Juventus but if Napoli beat Inter Milan at the San Siro later Sunday, the gap to third will be just one point.
Spalletti said Roma “lacked lucidity” but said his men ultimaltely had to “keep quiet and accept the flak”.
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“We made some wrong decisions. We should have had more ball possession, but we struggled to respond when they went on the counter.”
Lazio midfielder Lucas Biglia said they had been determined to cause an upset.
“We deserved the win, but the coach has been trying to drill into us since Monday that we could beat Roma,” said Biglia, who swapped shirts with Totti at the final whistle.
“For me, he’s one of football’s icons so to go home with his shirt is great gift for me.”
Roma enjoyed a bright start, Edin Dzeko notably firing over while under pressure from six yards out.
But the red and yellow half of the Stadio Olimpico was stunned into silence before the quarter-hour when Balde collected a perfect through ball from deep in midfield to sidestep two defenders and fire through the legs of Emerson Palmieri to wrong-foot Wojciech Szczesny in the Roma net.
Lazio were denied a penalty when Jordan Lukaku was brought down by Fazio after he powered his his way into the area from the left.
Over-run in midfield and struggling for solutions in the final third, Spalletti turned to the Roma fans, gesturing for their vocal support as his side failed to fire.