Roma dominated the showdown with Fiorentina 4-1 with Mohamed Salah’s brace to go clear in third place and a seventh straight Serie A victory.
These sides were locked together in third going into the Stadio Olimpico, the spot valid for the Champions League preliminary round. Daniele De Rossi was injured and Mauro Zarate suspended, while Tino Costa and Josip Ilicic stepped in for Milan Badelj and Cristian Tello after Monday’s 1-1 draw with Napoli.
The Giallorossi won 2-1 at the Stadio Franchi in October, but lost both their last two home fixtures against the Viola in the Europa League and Coppa Italia. Fiorentina haven’t earned a Serie A victory here since April 2012, as this was their fourth straight defeat.
Wojciech Szczesny performed an early save on Nikola Kalinic’s header, but he was offside on Ilicic’s free kick. Ilicic also curled just over the bar on a Facundo Roncaglia through ball.
Roncaglia was then decisive with a last-ditch tackle on Mohamed Salah as he was pulling the trigger, having leapt over a Federico Bernardeschi challenge.
Roma kept much of the early possession and broke the deadlock. Salah might’ve been narrowly offside in a very close call, but burst into the box down the right and rolled across for Stephan El Shaarawy to bundle over the line from six yards.
Moments later Salah got another stroke of luck, as his shot from the edge of the box took a huge deflection off Davide Astori to loop over a helpless Ciprian Tatarusanu.
It was almost 3-0 a minute after that, as Diego Perotti pounced on an Astori howler only for his angled drive to bounce off the far upright of an empty net.
Fiorentina looked all at sea and also lost Borja Valero to injury after an early knock to the top of his foot. Alessandro Florenzi was penalised for charging down a cross with his hand, but it’s not clear whether contact was inside the box or not. A free kick was awarded on the edge of the area, from which Nikola Kalinic turned an overhead kick wide.
The Viola’s luck was definitely out this evening, as Matias Vecino also went off with a groin strain.
Roma added a third goal, as Lucas Digne chested down the ball for El Shaarawy, who rolled across for Perotti to side-foot home from 10 yards. Roncaglia stood there appealing for an offside flag that never came.
Radja Nainggolan also curled wide, but Fiorentina were given a way back in on the stroke of half-time when Lucas Digne dived into a mistimed tackle on Cristian Tello. Ilicic powerfully converted the resulting penalty.
After the restart Roncaglia’s rocket skimmed the upright, but Roma added another goal when Roncaglia allowed Salah to spring the offside trap on an inspired Miralem Pjanic ball over the top and kept his cool to nutmeg Tatarusanu.
Milan Badelj had penalty appeals waved away for a Nainggolan challenge and Pjanic’s diving header was straight at the goalkeeper.
Francesco Totti was given a standing ovation when coming on for the first time since he was dropped following a row with Luciano Spalletti. It was his 593rd Serie A appearance for Roma, the 722nd in all competition and he almost scored, because his free kick clipped the outside of the upright.
See the latest Serie A predictions and betting tips with Eurotips.co.uk