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Roma battle back after Olsen blunder in five-goal Genoa thriller

Milan (AFP) – Roma battled back for a 3-2 Serie A victory over Genoa to give beleaguered coach Eusebio Di Francesco a lifeline at the Stadio Olimpico on Sunday despite goalkeeper Robin Olsen’s early blunder.

It ended Roma’s five-match winless streak dating back to a 4-1 triumph over Sampdoria on November 11, and lifted Di Francesco’s side to sixth — two points behind AC Milan in the final Champions League berth.

The hosts had got off to the worst possible start in a tense atmosphere in Rome when Swedish keeper Olsen let the ball slip through his legs and hands to allow Serie A top-scorer Krzysztof Piatek pounce in the 17th minute.

Polish striker Piatek slid in for his 12th goal of the season to overtake Cristiano Ronaldo as Serie A’s leading scorer after the Portuguese star scored from the spot to give Juventus 1-0 derby win over Torino on Saturday.

But goals from Federico Fazio and Justin Kluivert twice pulled Roma level before the break, with Bryan Cristante grabbing the winner just before the hour mark.

Former Roma midfielder Di Francesco, 49, was reported to be set for the axe if his team failed to deliver a win against Genoa, who are now 16th.

Roma had thrown away a two-goal lead to draw 2-2 with nine-man Cagliari last weekend; and suffered their second Champions League defeat in a row at Viktoria Plzen, although they still qualified for the knockout rounds.

But to the despair of the home fans in a rainy capital, a crouching Olsen failed to control Oscar Hiljemark’s shot from a distance, turning to watch as the ball rolled towards the empty net before desperately scrambling back to try and save.

After the initial shock, Fazio pulled the hosts level just after half an hour, only for unmarked midfielder Hiljemark to give Genoa the advantage again two minutes later.

Kluivert pulled Roma level before the break with a fantastic individual goal.

Genoa thought they had a third after the break when another Olsen error allowed Darko Lazovic through, but his goal was disallowed because of Piatek’s offside position.

Cristante missed the chance for a brace when he hit the post, with Genoa remaining dangerous until the final whistle.

– Milik lifts Napoli –

Earlier, Polish striker Arkadiusz Milik’s superb injury-time free-kick grabbed a 1-0 win for Napoli over Cagliari to pull Carlo Ancelotti’s side back to within eight points of leaders Juventus.

Milik scored the winner in the 91st minute in Sardinia with a perfectly curled effort which left Cagliari goalkeeper Alessio Cragno with no chance.

Ancelotti had rung the changes after Napoli’s Champions League exit to Liverpool but the visitors struggled in attack against the well-organised Sardinians.

Milik had a chance to break the deadlock on 68 minutes but his header hit the bar, with Cragno rushing to prevent Kalidou Koulibaly’s attempted finish from the rebound.

But Napoli poured forward in search of a winner with Milik settling the game with his eighth goal of the season and fourth in three games.

“Anfield was a big blow, but the lads immediately responded as I expected them to,” said Ancelotti.

“I chose a fresher initial line-up to give us energy throughout the match. It was a mature victory with intensity.”

Cagliari, in 13th position, suffered their first home defeat of the season.

Fiorentina ended their eight-match league winless run with a 3-1 comeback victory over Empoli, and are now four points off fourth-placed AC Milan who play Bologna on Tuesday.

Fabio Quagliarella, meanwhile, continued his fine form, scoring in his sixth straight Serie A game to seal a 2-0 win for Sampdoria over Parma.

Gianluca Caprari scored the opener in the 66th minute in Genoa with Quagliarella further punishing Parma with a second three minutes later for his ninth goal this season and seventh in six games.

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