Roma claimed an important three points on Monday but head coach Luciano Spalletti was complimentary of the losers, insisting AC Milan will be among the Serie A challengers at the end of the season.
Radja Nainggolan's stunning second-half strike saw Roma past Milan 1-0 in a clash pitting second against third in the Italian capital.
After M'Baye Niang missed a penalty, Nainggolan produced a moment of brilliance with just over an hour played as Roma move three points clear in second, with Milan just a point above the chasing pack in third.
While Roma emerged triumphant, Spalletti focused on Vincenzo Montella's men post-match.
"It was a muscular and consistent second half," Spalletti told Mediaset Premium.
"Last season we did win a few games too, but tonight was really difficult and Milan were impressive.
"What people say of Milan and their coach is true - they are at the main table and we have to expect them there to the end.
"It's true they started out under the radar and without the most prestigious names, but their approach of football playing from the back and then flying into spaces, which is what happened on the penalty, then we did really well to bring home a win."
Nainggolan, meanwhile, lauded the character of his team-mates against Milan.
"We fashioned a few chances but the main thing is we won," the Belgium midfielder said. "We showed great character.
"Milan were set up really well but apart from the penalty we defended well. We can be happy today. We weren't winning games like this last year.
"There were times when we played nice football but wouldn't win the match. Wins like today's - when you get there by playing with resolve - are good too. There's only target in our minds and we're on the right path. We just need to keep believing and keep going as we are."