MILAN (AFP) – A superb scissor-kick from Radja Nainggolan helped secure the points as Roma closed the gap on Serie A leaders Juventus to just a point on Sunday after a 1-0 defeat of 10-man Genoa.
Gian Piero Gasperini’s high-flyers welcomed Roma looking for their seventh win in 10 games but the visitors were given a huge incentive after Sampdoria held Juventus to a 1-1 draw in Turin.
Roma were given a boost on the half hour when goalkeeper Matti Perin was issued a straight red card for a challenge on Nainggolan in the area.
Although replacement Eugenio Lamanna did well to stop Adem Ljajic’s resulting spot-kick on what was the ‘keeper’s Serie A debut, Roma’s advantage would eventually tell.
Nainggolan found himself in space five minutes before half-time and produced a fine piece of mid-air wizardry to fire Maicon’s delivery past a helpless Lamanna.
The result has given a huge boost to Rudi Garcia’s men only days after their failure to reach the last 16 of the Champions League following a 2-0 home defeat to Manchester City.
Gasperini – who was informed during half-time he would be sent to the stands for dissent – insisted his side emerged with “even more belief” about their qualities.
In Sunday’s late game goals by Jeremy Menez and Giacomo Bonaventura secured a precious 2-0 win for Milan over Napoli that moved Filippo Inzaghi’s side up to sixth.
Menez expertly skipped past French defender Kalidou Koulibaly in the sixth minute to send an angled strike past Rafael at the keeper’s far post.
Milan ‘keeper Diego Lopez kept the hosts in the game in the early stages with a series of saves from David Lopez and Jose Callejon, while defender Philippe Mexes almost turned the ball into his own net.
Milan kept up the pressure after the restart and were rewarded on 52 minutes when Bonaventura rose to meet Pablo Armero’s inviting cross from the left to send a glancing header past Rafael.
Gonzalo Higuain and Duvan Zapata both saw late chances go amiss as Rafael Benitez’s men succumbed to their first defeat since September to drop one place to seventh.
Earlier, Frenchman Patrice Evra gave champions Juve a 12th minute lead when he scored his first goal for the club with a header from a corner.