Coppa Italia: Roma stage fightback at Milan

January 25, 2007

ROME, Jan 25 (Reuters) - AS Roma came from behind to draw 2-2 with AC Milan in the first leg of their Italian Cup semi-final at the San Siro stadium on Thursday.

Trailing to early goals by Ricardo Oliveira and Filippo Inzaghi, Roma hit back through Simone Perrotta and David Pizarro to level the score at the interval before missing several chances to win the match in the second half.

With away goals counting double in the case of the tie ending in a draw, Roma are in a good position ahead of the return leg on Jan. 31.

The build-up to the game was overshadowed by Milan's ongoing negotiations with Real Madrid for Brazil striker Ronaldo.

The three-times FIFA World Player of the Year, who is due to undergo a medical at Milan's training base on Friday, arrived at the San Siro shortly before kick-off, turning the heads of spectators and staff.

Oliveira's third-minute strike got their attention back on the game though. The Brazilian chested down a long ball to go through alone on goal and beat visiting keeper Gianluca Curci.

Inzaghi grabbed Milan's second with a typically opportunistic finish on 23 minutes. Roma defender Christian Panucci slipped over, allowing Marek Jankulovski to send in a low cross for the Italy international to tap in at the far post.

Roma, who are second in Serie A, were being outclassed by a team that lies 19 points behind them in the league, but in the 29th minute Panucci made up for his slip by cutting the ball across the box for Perrotta to turn in the visitors' first goal.

Playmaker Pizarro pulled Roma level just before halftime, when he dragged down the ball on the edge of the area, side-stepped Gennaro Gattuso and unleashed a fierce drive that clattered off Milan keeper Dida into the net.

Milan came out aggressively at the restart, Curci doing well to turn a Kaka volley round his post at full stretch.

Roma, however, continued to look like the team most likely to score, and it was only Dida's quick reactions that prevented shots by winger Mancini, January signing Christian Wilhelmsson and Pizarro giving them a win.