Roma punish Verona to keep pressure on Milan teams

MILAN (AFP) – Roma maintained third spot in Serie A on Sunday with a 3-1 win over Hellas Verona to keep the pressure on the Milan teams leading the title race.

Captain Edin Dzeko was again sidelined after a fall-out with coach Paulo Fonseca, but Roma shrugged off his absence to stay six points behind leaders AC Milan and four adrift of Inter.

The capital side were three goals up after half an hour at the Stadio Olimpico, despite losing English defender Chris Smalling to a muscular injury early in the first half.

Gianluca Mancini rose to head in a corner in the 20th minute to get Roma into their stride, and two minutes later Borja Mayoral teed up Henrikh Mkhitaryan for a second.

Mayoral added the third himself just before the half-hour, finishing off after Verona goalkeeper Marco Silvestri cleared a Lorenzo Pellegrini volley into the Spaniard’s path.

Roma’s Gianluca Mancini (R) celebrates scoring with teammates during the Italian Serie A match against Verona. PHOTO: AP

Verona coach Ivan Juric made four substitutions 10 minutes after the break, with Ebrima Colley coming off the bench and nodding in just after the hour mark. But it failed to spark a fightback for ninth-placed Verona, with Roma getting maximum points before their trip to Juventus, who are one point behind in fourth.

Napoli, in fifth, a further two points adrift, rebounded from last weekend’s loss at Verona, with a 2-0 win against 19th-placed Parma.

Eljif Elmas broke through after half an hour in Naples, collecting the ball in midfield, beating four opponents and finishing off the solo effort from an angle.

Matteo Politano added a second eight minutes from time with a shot which took a deflection off Parma defender Yordan Osorio.

Coach Gennaro Gattuso hit out at the criticism he faces from “keyboard fans, in the era of lockdown” despite the team being in the running for a Champions League return.

Gattuso’s side are equal on points with sixth-placed Lazio who rebounded after their midweek Italian Cup defeat to Atalanta with a 3-1 win on their return trip to Bergamo.

Lazio went ahead in just the third minute with Adam Marusic curling in from a distance. Joaquin Correa doubled the lead from a tight angle six minutes after the break.

Mario Pasalic pulled a goal back for Atalanta with 10 minutes to go, sending in a rebound after Luis Muriel hit the post. Andreas Pereira and Vedat Muriqi both came off the bench after 80 minutes with the pair combining to create Lazio’s third which Muriqi tapped in two minutes later.