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El Shaarawy strike lifts Roma into Champions League places

Milan (AFP) – Stephan El Shaarawy struck the winner as Roma held off Torino 3-2 to move into the Champions League berths on Saturday as Serie A returned to action after a three-week winter break.

El Shaarawy truck the winner midway through the second half after coming on as a substitute in the sixth minute for injured Turkish winger Cengiz Under and watching his side throw away a two-goal half-time lead in the second period.

Roma overtake city rivals Lazio to move into fourth place, the final Champions League berth, with 33 points from 20 games — 20 points behind leaders Juventus.

“It was an important and hard-fought victory,” said El Shaarawy, after the capital club claimed a third straight league win for the second time this season. 

“It’s a shame that we conceded those two goals, but it was a win we earned with heart.”

Roma looked to be cruising when promising teenager Nicolo Zaniolo opened the scoring after 14 minutes at the Stadio Olimpico and Aleksandar Kolarov added the second from the spot 20 minutes later after Torino goalkeeper Salvatore Sirigu brought down El Shaarawy.

But Torino fought back after the break, with Tomas Rincon curling in a fine goal on 51 minutes and Christian Ansaldi volleying home to pull Walter Mazzarri’s side level 15 minutes later.

Roma bagged the three points thanks to El Shaarawy, who was set through by Lorenzo Pellegrini and shot home the winner in the 73rd minute to inflict a first away defeat on ninth-placed Torino.

Inter Milan — who sit six points ahead of Roma in third — host Sassuolo later on Saturday behind closed doors at the San Siro as punishment for racist chanting towards Napoli defender Kalidou Koulibaly on during their 1-0 Boxing Day win over Carlo Ancelotti’s side.

Luciano Spalletti’s Inter will be looking to close the gap on second-placed Napoli, who host Lazio on Sunday without Koulibaly after the Senegal defender lost his appeal against a two-match ban imposed for his sending off during that defeat to Inter.

Juventus — fresh from winning a record eighth Italian Super Cup trophy midweek against AC Milan thanks to Cristiano Ronaldo’s goal in Saudi Arabia — host bottom team Chievo on Monday as Gennaro Gattuso’s Milan travel to Genoa.

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