Edin Dzeko scored the decisive goal on a smart Stephan El Shaarawy assist, as Roma squeezed past Udinese to at least temporarily go fourth.
The Giallorossi pushed back into the running for a Champions League spot after a draw with Fiorentina and narrow win at Sampdoria, but Alessandro Florenzi, Davide Santon and Rick Karsdorp were injured, with Aleksandar Kolarov suspended, so Juan Jesus and Ivan Marcano were makeshift full-backs in a 4-4-2. Udinese needed points to keep clear of the relegation zone and were revitalised since Igor Tudor took over, but Marvin Zeegelaar was suspended after his red card in the 3-2 win over Empoli. Bram Nuytinck, Valon Behrami, Antonin Barak and Nicolas Opoku were injured.
It was a very aggressive start from the visitors, as within three minutes Antonio Mirante had palmed a ferocious Rolando Mandragora left-foot rocket round the far post.
Kevin Lasagna sprung the offside trap to flash a dangerous shot across the face of goal, then Kostas Manolas timed his intervention perfectly to charge down a Lasagna strike set up by Rodrigo De Paul.
Roma slowly started to get back into it under extremely heavy rain, but Bryan Cristante couldn’t steer the Marcano low cross on target from six yards.
Moments later, De Paul did well to get back and do enough to put Nicolò Zaniolo off at the back post on a Stephan El Shaarawy cross. The Little Pharaoh’s free header was over the bar on Edin Dzeko’s cross, while Juan Musso smothered El Shaarawy’s attempt and parried a Marcano strike from a tricky angle.
Schick hit the side-netting after a great acrobatic El Shaarawy take, but Juan Jesus came off worse from a clash of heads with Samir and had to be substituted at half-time suffering from dizziness. Florenzi was therefore rushed back from injury, while Lorenzo Pellegrini replaced Schick.
Mirante struggled to push away a Stefano Okaka downward header, bumping into the upright, then had to scramble back to palm a deflected Marco D’Alessandro cross out from under the bar.
Udinese had a huge chance on 56 minutes, as a corner was not cleared properly and Sebastien De Maio’s header bounced off the back post from close range.
Roma also threatened from a set play, Cristante’s glancing header on a Pellegrini free kick skimming the far post. Dzeko’s header was then kept out by a tough one-handed Musso save.
The pressure paid off, as a delightful El Shaarawy flicked no-look pass off the outside of the boot floated over the defenders, allowing Dzeko to spring the offside trap and score his first Serie A goal at the Olimpico in a year.
The celebrations didn’t last long, because Daniele De Rossi immediately limped off with a suspected thigh strain.
Udinese put on every available striker, but were unable to break down the makeshift Giallorossi defence.
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