Roma made it 8 for 8 with a 2-0 win over 10-man Napoli on Friday to keep a stranglehold on the top of Serie A.
Rudi Garcia's men would have dropped beneath the Partenopei with a defeat but Miralem Pjanic's two goals maintained the Roman club's unblemished record for 2013-14.
The Bosnian midfielder scored a 25-yard free kick deep in first-half stoppage time, then doubled his tally with a drilled penalty against the run of play after substitute Paolo Cannavaro was shown a red card to seal the Giallorossi victory and condemn Rafa Benitez to his first Serie A defeat with Napoli.
Gonzalo Higuain's fitness concerns saw the Argentine start on the bench, while Roma goalkeeper Morgan De Sanctis featured against his former club for the first time since departing this summer.
Neither goalkeeper was tested in the early stages, as Pepe Reina simply had to stand his ground when Gervinho was through at an acute angle but sliced wide of the left post when under pressure.
Roma was dealt a blow when Francesco Totti was brought off with a thigh injury for Marco Borriello, quieting the Stadio Olimpico crowd somewhat, but the supporters were back in full volume in the 35th minute when Daniele De Rossi cleared off the line.
Goran Pandev broke through the gaping Giallorossi defense and saw his shot only semi-saved by De Sanctis. But as the ball bounced towards goal, the vice captain chased it down to acrobatically clear.
Lorenzo Insigne looked to have had the final chance of the half, but the young Napoli attacker could scarcely believe he struck the post instead of scoring, only realizing as he began wheeling away to celebrate.
But Pjanic had the final say in the first half with a perfect free kick that curled into the top-left corner after Gervinho was bundled over by a clumsy challenge from Cannavaro, which earned the defender his first yellow card.
Inler's shot clipped the outside of the post as Napoli looked to erase the goal deficit after the break, and its attacks were quicker and its tempo more fluent than Roma's.
In the 58th minute, a drilled corner met by the head of De Rossi reminded the visitors of the threat even a blunt Roma can pose, though the Italy international nodded wide.
The game was not end-to-end but the best chances certainly alternated, as Marek Hamsik made it three woodwork-thumping misses for the visitors.
Though Napoli looked stronger for the 25 minutes after halftime, the tides changed in the 71st minute when Cannavaro was show a second yellow for pulling Borriello to the ground inside the Napoli area.
Pjanic stepped up to lash the spot kick into the top-left corner, sending Reina the wrong way and doubling his goal tally for the evening.
The remaining 19 minutes, and the four minutes of added time, slithered by without a major event as the hosts took the back seat and Napoli looked like they had the wind knocked out of them.
- Sports & Recreation
- Miralem Pjanic
- Paolo Cannavaro
- Daniele De Rossi
- Marco Borriello