Milan held at home by Roma

March 2nd, 2009 - 1:46 pm ICT by IANS  

Milan, March 2 (DPA) Serie A leaders Inter Milan had to thank a Mario Balotelli brace as they rallied to salvage a 3-3 draw against tough visitors Roma in a thrilling game at the Giuseppe Meazza stadium.
The brazen Rome guests Sunday could not rely on captain Francesco Totti but took a two-goal lead in the first half hour thanks to fast midfield tactics and good use of both flanks on the pitch.

Brazilian Julio Baptista had a free kick saved, before his Inter compatriot Maxwell fired wide off an assist from Davide Santon in the 14th minute.

The red-yellows dominance yielded a first fruit in the 23rd minute through a header from Daniele De Rossi, who soared above captain Javier Zanetti, sending the ball to graze the left post off a cross from Marco Motta.

A second blow brought the lacklustre hosts to their knees six minutes later as Norwegian defender John Riise burst down the left flank, leapt past Maicon and beat the onrushing Julio Cesar from an extremely tight angle.

The Inter defence was in trouble again in the 33rd minute, but Nicolas Burdisso managed to clear a ball that Mirko Vucinic was about to fire home from close range.

Inter kept Swedish star Zlatan Ibrahimovic on the bench but switched tempo in the second half and pulled one back in the 50 minutes when Balotelli volleyed by the closest post off a low feed from Adriano.

The young striker’s effort was followed seven minutes later by Matteo Brighi’s goal off an assist from Baptista, who won a tackle on Estaban Cambiasso and set up the team-mate for a low shot by the post to Julio Cesar’s right.

More thrills were in store for the Meazza crowd, who went wild when Mario Balotelli converted a spot kick in the 63rd minute after being floored in the area, and Hernan Crespo levelled with 11 minutes left.

The seldom fielded Argentine set the score on 3-3 two minutes after coming on with a great header that inflated the net after touching the post.

In the final minutes, Roma came close to a fourth goal as Julio Cesar deflected a smashing Riise free kick and De Rossi misfired after bursting into the box.

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