With the Copa Italia final still months away, the Scudetto out of reach, and a Champions League thumping at the hands of Manchester United still fresh in its memory, Roma's players could be forgiven for feeling they have little to play for in Serie A, but Wednesday night at the San Siro, Roma put together a gritty performance to down Inter Milan, 3-1, in its own backyard, postponing the Nerazzurri's title celebrations for another day.
.It was, significantly, Inter's first defeat of the season, exacerbated by the fact that it was a home loss to a bitter rival that's sitting
firmly entrenched in second place. Inter will no doubt go on to win the Scudetto, needing only six points in its last six games to make certain, but the defeat was a definite body-blow to the club's
confidence."We were like a tennis player who goes to play match point and suddenly feels frightened of winning," said Inter coach Roberto Mancini after the defeat.
Indeed, it seems Inter's
been playing that way for a few weeks now: a pair of jittery performances against Reggina and Palermo ended in (some might say lucky) draws before last night's loss. "There was a lot of tension and we
felt it," midfielder Dejan Stankovic said. "Playing for the title in front of our fans made us feel like we had weights on our legs," though he denied any possibility of Inter throwing the title away.
"The celebrations are only postponed." Inter would win the Scudetto this weekend if Roma loses at Atalanta and the Nerazzurri beat lowly Siena.