Saturday, 29 March 2008

[Scudetto Race] Wk 31 Reaction

Roma coach Luciano Spalletti was disappointed with the result only, but is pleased with the way his side reacted against Cagliari.

The Sardinian strugglers took the lead just two minutes into the game thanks to a Matteo Ferrari own goal, but Francesco Totti’s free kick rescued a 1-1 draw for the Scudetto contenders.

"The lads played a good game and deserved more, so it is a little disappointing not to take home three points," Spalletti said. "The match got off to a very bad start, as we conceded immediately and everything changed from that moment on.

"At this stage we have to be content with what we achieved, it’s a result that must be accepted and we did everything we could."

The draw reduced the gap on leaders Inter to three points for a couple of hours, but the Nerazzurri had the chance to react with their game away to Lazio.

"It doesn’t matter what they do, we are the ones who need to pick up points," Spalletti concluded.

Cagliari boss Davide Ballardini agreed that his team were fortunate to sneak a draw. "It was a struggle against a great team that is trying to blow the title race wide open. We got off to a good start and then Roma’s quality came out. We were a little bit lucky, which never does any harm."

With Roma picking up only one point, Inter had the opportunity to extend their lead at the top to six points in the evening, but Roberto Mancini's side were also held to a 1-1 draw at Lazio.

The Nerazzurri took a 1-0 lead to the half-time break thanks to a Hernan Crespo tap-in, but Tommaso Rocchi sprung the offside trap to deservedly equalise for the home side.

"A victory would have been better, as it would’ve given us more breathing room, but the advantage remains pretty big and the number of games left is reduced to seven," Mancini said. "I think this coming week and the next will be decisive.

"When we were able to play then we got the goal and went close to more. If only we had more clinical finishing and aggression then we could have gone 2-0 up.

"I think David Suazo was halted for a similar offside position as Rocchi’s goal, but that time the linesman raised his flag. In any case, I think Rocchi was offside."

The last few days have been particularly tense for Mancini, as reports were flying around Europe – including quotes from Jose Mourinho’s spokesman – that negotiations with Inter were at an advanced stage.

"These don’t affect me," assured the Nerazzurri boss. "The important thing is to work in a relaxed atmosphere in these weeks to recover players and our overall form.

"The club and I have clarified the situation, there is absolutely no problem between us," he added.

Meanwhile, Lazio's Delio Rossi was cursing the crossbar for denying Lazio what he deemed was a deserved victory against the leaders.

At 1-1 and with 30 minutes remaining, Valon Behrami and Ousmane Dabo were both unlucky with stunning strikes hitting the bar.

"We got off to a good start, but then conceded a goal on our mistake," he said. "In the second half with a little bit more luck we could easily have won this match."

Rossi admitted this week he hoped Inter would win the Scudetto and there was talk in the media that Lazio would not put too much effort in, as a victory would've helped rivals Roma close in on the title.

"We are a team who have always gone for the win, home or away, in Italy or Europe. I don’t think it was fair to suggest beforehand we’d hold back, but it’s part of the sport."

Source: C4 Football Italia

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