Timber wood

Lorenzo Pellegrini and Romelu Lukaku steered Roma to a 2-0 win against nine-man Napoli in an ill-tempered Serie A clash at the Stadio Olimpico.

Matteo Politano saw red for Napoli shortly after the hour mark, with substitute Pellegrini putting the home side ahead 10 minutes later.

The visitors then lost Victor Osimhen after he was shown a second yellow card, with Lukaku sealing the win for Roma in the sixth minute of stoppage time. Roma move ahead of Napoli and into sixth place.

Both sides had a point to prove following recent disappointing defeats – Roma suffering a 2-0 loss at Bologna last weekend, while Napoli were dumped out of the Coppa Italia earlier this week following a 4-0 thrashing at home to Frosinone.

Following nine changes for their Coppa Italia exit, defending champions Napoli were back to full strength for their visit to the Italian capital, with marksman Osimhen leading the line.

Roma manager Jose Mourinho was able to call on Lukaku with the on-loan Chelsea forward returning from a ban after he was sent off in his side’s 1-1 draw against Fiorentina a fortnight ago.

Lukaku was involved in the first real chance of the game when his hold-up play allow allowed Edoardo Bove to strike at the Napoli goal, but the young midfielder’s dipping effort clipped the bar.

Bove was in the thick of it moments later when his shot was superbly charged down by Napoli stopper Alex Meret.

Then came a flurry of bookings with Mourinho not far from the action. The former Chelsea and Manchester United manager was involved in a touchline spat with Napoli’s Khvicha Kvaratskhelia and even found himself in referee Andrea Colombo’s book.

Following the break, Napoli started to grow into the game but their bid for victory was derailed when Politano was shown a straight red card with 66 minutes gone.

As Napoli looked to hit Roma on the counter-attack, Nicola Zalewski pulled Politano’s shirt and the winger kicked out in frustration at his opponent. Colombo did not hesitate in showing Zalewski a yellow card before pulling out a red for a stunned Politano.

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— AS Roma (@OfficialASRoma) December 23, 2023

The visitors were suddenly on the backfoot and Roma’s breakthrough quickly arrived.

Pellegrini, introduced by Mourinho only five minutes earlier, took advantage of a fluffed shot by Stephan El Shaarawy to score on the turn with virtually his first kick of the game.

Napoli were then reduced to nine men after Osimhen was shown a second yellow card with four minutes of normal time remaining before Lukaku got on the scoresheet with the last kick of the night.

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