Milan (AFP) – A slick second-half brace from Mohamed Salah sealed a 4-1 Roma romp at Pescara that virtually sent the Serie A strugglers back to Italy’s second division on Monday.
Roma’s 24th win of the campaign helped close the gap on leaders Juventus to eight points, although the Turin giants remain firmly on course for a record sixth consecutive scudetto.
The only blip for Roma on the day they appointed former Sevilla goalkeeper Ramon Rodriguez Verdejo, known as Monchi, as the club’s new sporting director was striker Edin Dzeko being caught on camera launching a tirade at coach Luciano Spalletti after he decided to replace the Bosnian with Frenchman Clement Grenier 20 minutes from the end.
Dzeko is tied with Torino’s Andrea Belotti on 25 goals at the top of the Serie A scoring charts and was denied the chance to add to his tally, which is now under threat from Inter Milan hitman Mauro Icardi, on 24 following his hat-trick in a 5-4 loss at Fiorentina.
Dzeko had to settle for an assist on the night as Dutchman Kevin Strootman, Radja Nainggolan and Salah, with a second-half double that featured a superb counter from a wayward Pescara corner on the hour, got their name on the scoresheet.
As Roma tired, Pescara finally came fighting back in a promising final third in which Wojciech Szczesny was forced into action on several occasions before finally being beaten by Ahmad Benali when he got in behind Kostas Manolas to meet a crisp cross from the right.
It was scant consolation for the Adriatic coast side. Now 15 points behind Empoli and the safety zone with five games remaining, they are all but mathematically on their way back to Serie B.
After a recent run of four consecutive wins, Roma’s title hopes were dented by a 1-1 draw at home to Atalanta last week.
Spalletti’s men were creative from the outset but it took until the 44th minute for the visitors to break the deadlock, Stephan El Shaarawy powering into the box to deliver a perfect square ball for Strootman to tap home.
When Dzeko chased down Salah’s overhit cross to the left of goal a minute later, he picked out Nainggolan with a precision pass for the Belgium midfielder to drill past Vincenzo Fiorillo.
Roma resumed in commanding fashion ater half-time, Salah beating Fiorillo down low at his near post with a great curling strike from the edge of the area on 48 minutes.
The Egyptian created his own double, snatching a wayward corner from Pescara to power up the middle and exchange a one-two with El Shaarawy before firing low past Fiorillo.
25+ Channels With Sports & News
- Starting price: $33/mo. for fubo Latino Package
- Watch Premier League, Liga MX, MLS & World Cup
- Includes ESPN, FOX, Univision, TUDN and more
Favorite Leagues At The Best Price
- Starting price: $7.99/mo. for Live TV Package
- Watch Argentine league, Brasileirāo and Copa Libertadores
- Includes beIN SPORTS, GolTV, TyC Sports and more
Many Sports & ESPN Originals
- Price: $6.99/mo. (or get ESPN+, Hulu & Disney+ for $13.99/mo.)
- Features LaLiga, Bundesliga, MLS, Copa del Rey & more
- Also includes daily ESPN FC news & highlights show
Live TV, Soccer & Originals
- Starting price: $4.99/mo.
- Features Champions League, Serie A, Europa League & more
- Includes CBS, Star Trek & CBS Sports HQ
175 Premier League Games & PL TV
- Starting price: $4.99/mo. for Peacock Premium
- Watch 175 exclusive EPL games per season
- Includes Premier League TV channel plus movies, TV shows & more
Get All 3 And Save 30%
- $13.99/mo. for ESPN+, Disney+ & Hulu
- Includes Bundesliga, LaLiga, NHL & the home to UFC
- Features Marvel, Star Wars + shows & movies for your entire family