x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Totti joy despite defeat

Roma may have been thrashed 4-0 at home by Inter Milan, but they still had a good reason to celebrate.

Inter's Sulley Muntari gets the Roma striker Simone Loria in a headlock at the Stadio Olimpico.
Inter's Sulley Muntari gets the Roma striker Simone Loria in a headlock at the Stadio Olimpico.

ROME // Roma may have been thrashed 4-0 at home by Inter Milan, but they still had a good reason to celebrate. The Italian side have had a wretched start to the season but coach Luciano Spalletti was able to welcome back Francesco Totti on Sunday. His captain made his first start in six months after being sidelined with a knee injury.

"The good thing is that my knee responded well but this being my first game back, I cannot complain not to have played for 90 minutes," said Totti, who was taken off shortly after an hour. Totti, who had twice recently come on as a substitute, is now hoping to play for Roma in their Champions League clash against Chelsea tomorrow. "I am available for the game at Chelsea," said Totti. "Spalletti will decide whether I will play or not. Being able to play every three days allows you to bounce back from defeats quicker.

"It's going to be difficult against them, but we will try to show our worth." The defeat against the Nerazzurri has left Roma 14th in the table, nine points behind Serie A leaders Inter after seven games. Spalletti, whose team have won just two league games this campaign, tried to play down the margin of Inter's victory. "The result is not the reflection of what happened on the pitch," he said. "I think it's an exaggerated result."

And Inter forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic has warned his team-mates they cannot afford to get carried away by the win which lifted the Milan side to the top of Serie A - two points clear of Udinese, Catania and Napoli. "We wanted to win and we did everything to achieve that," said the Sweden international. "We had the right mentality and this was an important win. But this is just one game, we are taking it one game at a time.

"We did well against Roma but now we have the Champions League and we hope to do well." Inter will take on Anorthosis in Europe's elite club competition tomorrow. Coach Jose Mourinho could barely contain his delight after what was their second success of the season against Roma. But the former Chelsea coach revealed he expects to return to England when his time comes to an end at Internazionale. "I have a contract with Inter but when it ends I will probably return to the Premier League, a league I really like," he said.

But AC Milan coach Carlo Ancelotti has dismissed any suggestion he could become the next coach of Zenit St Petersburg. "Those are rumours without any truth," Ancelotti said after Sunday's 3-0 win over Sampdoria. "I am very happy at Milan." Torino president Urbano Cairo has given Giovanni de Biasi, just one of several Serie A coaches under pressure, a vote of confidence. A 1-0 defeat against Cagliari marked the Granata's third successive loss.

But Cairo said: "I have confidence in De Biasi. We will reason together in order to see where we can improve. I will not change the coach because it's a mistake to make fast assumptions." sports@thenational.ae