Roma continued their strong run of form with a hard-fought victory at Crotone thanks to Stephan El Shaarawy and Radja Nainggolan.
The Giallorossi were brimming with confidence after a 4-2 win over Napoli and beating Shakhtar Donetsk to book a Champions League quarter-final meeting with Barcelona. Diego Perotti and Gregoire Defrel were injured, with Daniele De Rossi suspended, so Eusebio Di Francesco engaged in some squad rotation. Crotone were fresh from flattening Sampdoria 4-1, but missed Mariano Izco, Ante Budimir, Marcus Rohden, Stefan Simic and Roma-owned Marco Tumminello.
Andrea Nalini was an early addition to the absentee list, limping off after just 22 minutes.
Radja Nainggolan blasted just over from the edge of the box, then his dangerous cross was almost turned in at the back post by Gerson.
The deadlock was broken when at the end of a long passing move, Aleksandar Kolarov’s cross found El Shaarawy relatively unmarked to acrobatically volley in from close range.
Kolarov provided the assist for the goal, but almost gifted Crotone an equaliser with his clumsy clearance that risked turning into an own goal.
Alex Cordaz made a fine double save on both Edin Dzeko and the Nainggolan follow-up from close range.
Roma started to rest on their laurels and were almost made to pay for it with several big scares. Marcello Trotta caught Federico Fazio in possession and ran forward, denied by Alisson one-on-one.
Moments later, Bruno Peres made a crucial interception to stop Federico Ricci’s cross off the outside of the boot finding Ahmad Benali at the back post.
Ricci created another very promising counter only for Adrian Stoian to prod it straight into the arms of Alisson.
The ‘safety’ goal finally arrived with a moment of magic from Nainggolan, his daisy-cutter from the edge of the box flying into the bottom corner. It was the Belgian’s first goal since November 18 in the Derby della Capitale.
Crotone kept pushing, but Fazio made a double block from point-blank range on first Benali and then Simy. Roma had the last chance, Cengiz Under forcing a goal-line clearance from Marco Davide Faraoni.
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