Milan (AFP) – Roma maintained third spot in Serie A on Sunday with a 3-1 win over Hellas Verona on Sunday to keep the pressure on the Milan teams leading the title race.
Captain Edin Dzeko was again sidelined after a fall-out with coach Paulo Fonseca, but Roma shrugged off his absence to stay six points behind leaders AC Milan and four adrift of Inter.
The capital side were three goals up after half an hour at the Stadio Olimpico, despite losing English defender Chris Smalling to a muscular injury early in the first half.
Gianluca Mancini rose to head in a corner in the 20th minute to get Roma into their stride, and two minutes later Borja Mayoral teed up Henrikh Mkhitaryan for a second.
Mayoral added the third himself just before the half-hour, finishing off after Verona goalkeeper Marco Silvestri cleared a Lorenzo Pellegrini volley into the Spaniard’s path.
Verona coach Ivan Juric made four substitutions 10 minutes after the break, with Ebrima Colley coming off the bench and nodding in just after the hour mark.
But it failed to spark a fightback for ninth-placed Verona, with Roma getting maximum points before next week’s trip to Juventus, who are one point behind in fourth.
Napoli, in fifth, a further two points adrift, rebounded from last weekend’s loss at Verona, with a 2-0 win against 19th-placed Parma.
Eljif Elmas broke through after half an hour in Naples, collecting the ball in midfield, beating four opponents and finishing off the solo effort from an angle.
Matteo Politano added a second eight minutes from time with a shot which took a deflection off Parma defender Yordan Osorio.
Coach Gennaro Gattuso hit out at the criticism he faces from “keyboard fans, in the era of lockdown” despite the team being in the running for a Champions League return.
“I get slaughtered every day and it’s difficult,” complained the former AC Milan coach.
“I’m taking slaps to the right and left every day, you’d think we are last in the standings.”
– Lazio rebound in Bergamo –
Gattuso’s side are equal on points with sixth-placed Lazio who rebounded after their midweek Italian Cup defeat to Atalanta with a 3-1 win on their return trip to Bergamo.
The Roman side gained revenge with a dominant display at the Gewiss Stadium for their fifth consecutive league win.
Lazio went ahead in just the third minute with Adam Marusic curling in from a distance. Joaquin Correa doubled the lead from a tight angle six minutes after the break.
Mario Pasalic pulled a goal back for Atalanta with 10 minutes to go, sending in a rebound after Luis Muriel hit the post.
Andreas Pereira and Vedat Muriqi both came off the bench after 80 minutes with the pair combining to create Lazio’s third which Muriqi tapped in two minutes later.
“The goal at the beginning changed the game,” said Atalanta coach Gian Piero Gasperini after his team fell to their first league defeat in two months.
Atalanta drop to seventh, one point behind Lazio.
In Sardinia, Jeremie Boga scored deep into injury time to rescue a 1-1 draw for eighth-placed Sassuolo, who are six points off the Europa League places.
Cagliari remain in the relegation zone after stretching their winless league run to 13 games.
Elsewhere, Rodrigo De Paul scored the only goal from the penalty spot and was later sent off against Spezia to end Udinese’s eight-match winless run in a game both teams finished with 10 players.
Udinese move up to 13th after their first win since December 12 with Spezia dropping to 16th, four points above the relegation zone.
Genoa got back-to-back wins for the first time this season, 3-0 at rock bottom Crotone, with in-form Mattia Destro scoring twice for the port side, who are in 14th place.
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