Paulo Fonseca’s Roma defied a lengthy list of absentees to beat rivals AC Milan 2-1 at the Stadio Olimpico this evening, leaving the Portuguese boss delighted with his team’s efforts.

Goals from talisman Edin Dzeko and young starlet Nicolo Zaniolo gave the Giallorossi all three points against Milan, who had young Portugal sensation Rafael Leão in their line-up for the full ninety minutes.

Roma boss Fonseca was without eight players through injury and suspension, but the former Porto coach saw his team take a half-time lead through Dzeko’s back-post header. Leão – a summer capture from Lille in France – went closest for Milan in the first period when his smart left-foot shot was saved by Roma goalkeeper Lopez.

The home side had the better of the second half but Theo Hernandez levelled for Milan with a well-taken goal ten minutes after the break. Roma were soon back in front when Milan made a mess of their attempts to play out from the back and youngster Zaniolo punished them with a cool finish just before the hour mark.

Pastore and Mancini also missed good chances for Roma but a much-needed victory moves Fonseca’s men up to 5th and pleased the Portuguese, who has seen his side lose just one of their 9 Serie A matches so far. “At this moment, we just have to take it one game at a time, we’ll look at the table later on, positions aren’t important right now,” insisted the former Shakhtar Donetsk tactician.

“The players put in a good performance and fought hard, but it’s not easy at the moment to play three games in a week, so they really deserved this. Zaniolo had a great game, scored an important goal for us and we have three very, very important points for the team.”

Next up for Roma is a midweek trip to Udinese, before an intriguing match with Napoli back in the eternal city on Saturday.

By Sean Gillen

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“He is a person who is respected, who respects others, and above all he is a winner.”

Fernando Gomes
(FPF president upon announcing the contract extension of Portugal coach Fernando Santos)