Serie A Week 21 - 26 Jan 2014 (11.30 UK)
Verona 1 - 3 Roma
Ljajic 45 (R), Hallfredsson 49 (V), Gervinho 60 (R), Totti pen 82 (R)
Stadio Marc’Antonio Bentegodi

Roma closed to within six points of Juventus thanks to their 3-1 win at Verona, including a controversial penalty.

The Giallorossi knew a victory would put them within six points of leaders Juventus, who were held by Lazio last night, but Miralem Pjanic and Francesco Totti were rested after playing the Coppa Italia quarter-final on Tuesday. Verona opted for Massimo Donati as a replacement for Jorginho following his transfer to Napoli, but Luca Toni returned after suffering from flu. Michelangelo Albertazzi, Evangelos Moras and Alessandro Agostini missed out.

Hellas were still in joint fifth place with Inter and won eight of their 10 home games, but had lost two on the bounce in Serie A.

There was an early scare for Rafael, as Douglas Maicon’s cross was deflected and almost wrong-footed the goalkeeper. Mattia Destro’s turn was straight at Rafael, while Adem Ljajic fired over on the half-volley from the D.

Gervinho burst to the by-line and pulled back for Destro, who poked his volley over the bar from six yards.

There was bad news for Verona when captain Domenico Maietta tore a thigh muscle while playing a 60-yard pass and had to be stretchered off.

It seemed to be heading into the break with a draw, but in first half stoppages Roma found the breakthrough. Gervinho again surged down the left and pulled back for Ljajic, who was in the right place to tap in from six yards at the near post.

The second half started with a bang, as Verona got right back into the game. Iturbe robbed Leandro Castan and set up Emil Hallfredsson for a scorching finish from outside the area that might’ve taken a slight bobble to surprise Morgan De Sanctis. It was the first shot on goal Roma had conceded in their last two and a half matches.

Roma fought back and Rafael had to punch away a dangerous Maicon angled drive, while Ljajic curled wide of the far post and a series of attempts finishing with Vasilis Torosidis failed to make the most of a Romulo misplaced clearance.

Gervinho restored the visitors’ advantage with a well-worked individual goal. He gathered with his back to goal from a corner, turned his marker to cut inside and smashed the low drive into the near bottom corner.

Gervinho should’ve added a second to his tally, but didn’t expect the ball to come through to him and his first touch let him down.

At the other end, Hallfredsson unleashed another fierce strike from distance that stung the gloves of De Sanctis under the bar.

Castan turned a free header off target from a set piece, but Roma were given a controversial penalty, as Gonzalez appeared to get the ball when tackling Torosidis. Nonetheless, substitute Francesco Totti buried the spot-kick to increase the lead.

There was still drama in stoppages, as De Sanctis needed a fine save to deny a Marques header from a corner, then Roma went on the counter and Totti’s chip hit the bar.

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Verona: Rafael; Gonzalez, Marques, Maietta (Donadel 38), Cacciatore; Romulo, Donati (Longo 83), Hallfredsson; Iturbe, Toni, Gomez Taleb (Martinho 68)
Roma: De Sanctis; Maicon, Benatia, Castan, Torosidis; Nainggolan (Pjanic 60), De Rossi, Strootman; Gervinho, Destro (Totti 76), Ljajic (Florenzi 65)
Ref: Mazzoleni