Nainggolan fires Roma past AC Milan

MILAN: Radja Nainggolan hit a second-half scorcher to secure a 1-0 win over AC Milan, who saw M’Baye Niang miss a first-half penalty, to close to within four points of leaders Juventus on Monday. Roma and Milan had both dropped to seven points behind Juventus after Gonzalo Higuain scored twice on Sunday to seal a precious 2-1 derby win at Torino. AC Milan coach Vincenzo Montella was welcomed back to the stadium where he played many memorable games as a forward for the Giallorossi, when he celebrated goals doing the ‘Aeroplanino’ (Little Airplane).

But it was Luciano Spalletti’s hosts who were left celebrating following an entertaining clash at the Stadio Olimpico, Nainggolan beating Milan’s teenaged ‘keeper Gianluigi Donnarumma in the 62nd minute to make it three wins in succession. Roma remain second, four points off the lead with Milan seven adrift in third, with a one-point lead on both Napoli and Lazio. Edin Dzeko, looking to stretch the league-leading tally of 12 goals he shares with Inter’s Mauro Icardi, set the tone with a second-minute strike that forced Donnarumma down low at his near post. Milan hit back but Gianluca Lapadula couldn’t reach Suso’s through ball assist.

After just 20 minutes Lapadula earned Milan’s chance when he tempted Wojciech Szczesny into a rash tackle. But when Niang stepped up to take it, fans had reason for concern. Last week, the Frenchman was involved in an on-field spat with Lapadula after his fellow forward had won a penalty at Crotone. Niang won the argument, but missed the penalty and it was thanks to Lapadula’s late winner that Milan took the points from a 2-1 win. — AFP