Radja Nainggolan’s first goal in a Roma jersey gave them a hard-fought 1-0 victory away to Bologna.
The Giallorossi wanted to keep up the pressure on leaders Juventus, but were without Francesco Totti, Douglas Maicon, Federico Balzaretti and Dodo. Rudi Garcia completely revamped his full-backs, using veteran Rodrigo Taddei and youngster Alessio Romagnoli, while Kevin Strootman was rested in midfield. Bologna beat Torino a fortnight ago and were then beaten only by a Mario Balotelli blockbuster from 39 metres. Diego Perez was suspended with Francesco Della Rocca, Roberto Acquafresca and Michele Pazienza sidelined.
Morgan De Sanctis was almost stunned after seven minutes, as he was caught off his line by a Rolando Bianchi lob and had to desperately scramble back to pluck it out of the air.
The goalkeeper also had to be alert when Mattia Destro deflected a Lazaros Christodoulopoulos free kick and he had to smother at the base of the near post.
A long-range Miralem Pjanic free kick was off target, but Destro was incredibly unlucky not to score on 18 minutes. His low drive beat Gianluca Curci to thump the inside of the upright, roll all the way along the goalline and back out again.
Romagnoli did well to set up Radja Nainggolan, who didn’t keep his composure to blast high and wide. Gervinho went on a counter from his own box, but Archimede Morleo did just enough to stall him.
Roma did take the lead when Pjanic ran on to a Gervinho pass down the left and whipped a pass across the defence for Nainggolan’s first-time finish from six yards. It was the first goal in a Giallorossi jersey for the Belgian midfielder who joined from Cagliari in January.
Bologna tried to fight back, but Jonathan Cristaldo’s attempt was well off target. Straight after the restart Destro thought he had scored with a delightful lob, but the goal was ruled marginally offside.
Rene Krhin had a good chance to draw Bologna level, but turned his free header from a corner over the bar. Andrea Mantovani went even closer in an identical scenario, his finish skimming the base of the upright with De Sanctis rooted to the spot.
Rodrigo Taddei had the chance to put the result under lock and key at the end of a well-worked move, but the angled drive was beaten away by Curci’s legs and as it continued Gervinho was flagged offside.
Bianchi nodded on a cross for Ibson and De Sanctis had to rush off his line to charge down the Brazilian. Michel Bastos also wasted a good opportunity, side-footing over from a Gervinho counter-attack.
Deep into stoppages the Rossoblu thought they had earned a point, but Christodoulopoulos incredibly turned his diving header wide from six yards. It was a huge let-off for Rudi Garcia's men.