Roma scored some sensational team goals to sweep Atalanta aside 3-1 with Rodrigo Taddei, Adem Ljajic and Gervinho.
The Giallorossi were still eight points adrift of leaders Juventus and needed a win to keep the title race alive for a little longer. Mattia Destro began his four-match ban, while Mehdi Benatia, Kevin Strootman and Federico Balzaretti were sidelined. Miralem Pjanic and Alessandro Florenzi were also suspended, so Adem Ljajic and Rafael Toloi got rare starts. Atalanta had a club record six straight victories before last week’s surprise loss to Sassuolo and were missing Riccardo Cazzola, Lionel Scaloni, Franco Brienza, Maxi Moralez and the banned Cristiano Del Grosso.
When these teams met in Bergamo earlier this season, Strootman scored at the death to snatch a point. The Orobici’s last victory in Rome was over a decade ago.
Within the first three minutes Gervinho had forced the first save from Andrea Consigli at the near post after dribbling past two players in the box. A fierce Francesco Totti free kick whistled wide and Consigli got down quickly to palm away a Gervinho snapshot.
Roma did break through when Dodo acrobatically hooked the ball off the byline and back over his shoulder for Totti and it fell to Rodrigo Taddei for a powerful finish from the edge of the box. It took a slight deflection on the way through a sea of legs. Taddei had not scored since December 2011, but now had two in a couple of weeks.
Consigli also parried a Totti shot and Radja Nainggolan blasted wide, while Guglielmo Stendardo did just enough to stop Totti tapping in a Douglas Maicon cross at the back post. Atalanta also threatened, as Giacomo Bonaventura’s effort was deflected off Leandro Castan and Marcelo Estigarribia couldn’t keep his volley down.
A Ljajic free kick flew just over the near top corner, then Estigarribia saw an attempt deflected out for a corner off Daniele De Rossi and Maicon’s half-volley tested Consigli at the base of the upright.
Roma almost scored a magnificent goal before the break with a well-worked move. Totti and Ljajic combined with one-touch football before Nainggolan’s finish flashed across the face of goal to skim the back stick.
Bonaventura unleashed a shot that bounced right in front of Morgan De Sanctis, but the goalkeeper was equal to it.
The Giallorossi doubled their lead with a great team goal. Gervinho went on the counter and Totti crossed for De Rossi, who cushioned it down for Ljajic to score from eight yards. De Rossi’s generous assist allowed the Serbian to break his goal drought after two months.
Estigarribia’s scuffed attempt was straight at De Sanctis, then German Denis dribbled into space and his shot from eight yards was denied a certain goal by De Rossi’s decisive block.
Taddei sprung the offside trap on a ball over the top, acrobatically hooked it back over his shoulder, but nobody was ready to finish it off.
Roma scored another wonderful goal, as Totti’s backheel flick found Ljajic, who immediately allowed Gervinho to spring the offside trap and beat Consigli one-on-one.
De Sanctis was surprised by a cross that went past everyone and eventually flapped it out, then from that corner he had his palms stung by Bonaventura. Castan crucially blocked a Denis strike in the box.
Ljajic thought he had completed his brace with a curler from distance, but it smacked off the upright and into the grateful arms of Consigli.
It should’ve been 4-0 when Dodo pulled back for Gervinho, but he horribly scuffed the finish from six yards.
Instead, Atalanta pulled one back with a towering Giulio Migliaccio header at the back post to steer a Yohan Benalouane cross into the bottom corner.