Roma produced their best performance of the season so far at the perfect moment, as they stormed to a 3-1 win over Lazio in the Derby della Capitale on Saturday.
After taking the lead through Lorenzo Pellegrini on the stroke of half-time, the Giallorossi were briefly pegged back by Ciro Immobile - only for former Lazio player Aleskandar Kolarov to lash home a free-kick to decisively shift the balance of the tie.
A late header from Federico Fazio then clinched the three points - and the city bragging rights.
For the first 45 minutes it was everything you would expect from a derby; nervous, combative, hard-fought and tense. Lazio perhaps edged the possession in the early stages but it was the Giallorossi who seemed to have the clearer sights of goal, although no breakthrough would be forthcoming.
In the end it came on the stroke of half-time, through substitute Lorenzo Pellegrini. The midfielder had only been on the pitch 10 minutes, but he channelled the spirit of the man he replaced, Javier Pastore, to produce a clever backheel inside the box - slotting into the unmarked net after a deflection had left Lazio goalkeeper Thomas Strakosha hopelessly stranded.
From that point Roma were in control, at least until Ciro Immobile took advantage of a mistake in defence to equalise clinically. But the 'hosts' recovered and rebounded quickly - as Aleksandar Kolarov became just the second player ever to score for both sides in the Rome derby with a rasping finish from an edge-of-the-area free-kick.
From that point the game opened up, but Roma continued to look the better side. And, when Fazio rose highest to plant Pellegrini's free-kick beyond Strakosha, the three points were decisively wrapped up.
Kostas Manolas was passed fit to start the game, despite being a pre-match injury scare.
Elsewhere, Di Francesco opted to name Alessandro Florenzi in an attacking role - with Davide Santon slotting in at right-back.
Edin Dzeko led the line, after being rested in midweek against Frosinone.
12' - Even start. Lazio counter and Luis Alberto has a shot from inside the box charged down. The corner comes to nothing.
23' - SAVE STRAKOSHA! Dzeko carries the ball himself down the left flank, cuts inside into the box brilliantly and hits a low shot that the goalkeeper parries away!
24' - Another save from Strakosha, this time using his outstreched left foot to turn away Pastore's low shot from inside the box!
26' - Olsen makes a good stop with his left hand to deny Immobile.
27' - CHANCE! Only a last-ditch challenge from Luiz Felipe prevents Florenzi from rounding off an incisive counter-attack!
28' - Half-chance for De Rossi just before the cooling break - but the captain can't quite get his foot on Nzonzi's flick-on from the corner!
36' - Pellegrini replaces the injured Pastore.
45' - GOAL! ROMA LEAD! The breakthrough! A mix-up inside the Lazio box sees the ball roll away from Strakosha and, with his back to goal, Lorenzo Pellegrini steers the ball into the open net with a clever backheel!! YES! 1-0!
55' - Good from Olsen, saving and holding Immobile's shot as it came through a crowd of legs.
57' - Dzeko fires narrowly over from 25 yards out.
59' - Florenzi has a snapshot from the edge of the box that is deflected over. The resulting corner is taken short; Pellegrini shoots but it is easy for Strakosha.
67' - Goal. Immobile equalises. 1-1.
70' - Free-kick right on the very edge of the box for Roma. Badelj goes into the book. Kolarov stands over it...
71' - GOAL! YES! What a hit! The free-kick is in a very central position... Kolarov sizes up his options and fires a shot to the right of the wall that beats Strakosha for pace and swerve! 2-1!
81' - Good stop from Olsen to deny Milinkovic-Savic.
84' - Kolarov tries to catch out Strakosha from a long-range free-kick... the goalkeeper recovers to make the save.
86' - GOAL! Pellegrini swings in the free-kick from out wide, and it's Fazio who rises highest to power home the header! 3-1!
KEY MATCH STATISTICS
"It's 60 years since anyone scored for both teams in the derby. I always try to give my best; I knew I would have a chance to score in the derby for Roma as well. I'm very pleased."
The Giallorossi are back at the Olimpico on Tuesday night - as they look to kickstart their Champions League group stage with a win against Viktoria Plzen.
The next Serie A game sees Di Francesco's side travel to Empoli at the weekend.