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A Rome Derby to Remember for the Right Reasons
Guardian, March 21st, 2008 3:30PM

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Wednesday night's Rome derby could go down in history as one of the friendliest ever between bitter rivals Roma and Lazio, says the Guardian's Paolo Bandini -- and it was another great game, to boot. With Roma still chasing after league leader Inter Milan and Lazio inching closer toward a spot in Europe, this was an encounter full of meaning for both clubs, but goodwill triumphed in the end. Prior to the match, Lazio president Claudio Lotito begged Rome's often-violent fans to show the world "the level of maturity" they've achieved since the death of Lazio fan Gabriele Sandri, who was shot by police in November.

"Inside the Olimpico there was an unreal silence, before this different derby," wrote La Repubblica's Giulio Cardone. As Roma captain Francesco Totti, Lazio captain Tommaso Rocchi and Sandri's brother Cristiano laid flowers before a mural of the deceased, with Totti bending down to kiss the image to tumultuous applause from the Lazio supporters, Roma fans at the other end unfurled a banner containing the message, "Tears don't know color. Gabbo is one of us".

In the end, Lazio stole the derby, 3-2, with a 91st-minute game-winner from Valon Behrami, but the outcome of the match took a backseat to the goodwill reverberating around a stadium shared by supporters whose hatred for each other normally transcends the sport. For Roma fans, it helped, of course, that Inter had already tied Genoa earlier in the day, thus lowering the stakes of the outcome. Now seven points adrift of the league leader, Roma will be banking on a favor from Juventus and a return to form this weekend to retain their Scudetto hopes.

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