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Resurgent Roma sink wobbling Napoli to go third

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AS Roma’s French midfielder Jordan Veretout kicks a penalty and scores a goal during the Italian Serie A football match between AS Roma and Napoli at the Olympic stadium in Rome, on November 2, 2019. (Photo by Tiziana FABI / AFP)


In-form Roma moved third in Serie A on Saturday after a hard-fought 2-1 win over Napoli that took them to within four points of league leaders Juventus.

Rising star Nicolo Zaniolo opened the scoring midway through the first half with his fourth goal in as many games in all competitions before Jordan Veretout sealed the points from the penalty spot 10 minutes after the break and stretched Roma’s unbeaten league run to six games.

“We are really happy with the victory, it was a head-to-head we needed to win and we did. We’ve always said that we are a team with great talent and we are back on form after losing our way a bit last season,” Zaniolo told Sky Sport.

“I’m very pleased with my current form, I hope to continue like this and to score many more goals.”

Arkadiusz Milik’s fifth goal in four games closed the gap for Napoli, but the defeat sees them drop down to seventh, level on 18 points with Lazio and Cagliari after winning just one of their last five in Serie A.

They are eight points behind Juve and could fall further back later on Saturday when the reigning champions travel to local rivals Torino.

Second-placed Inter Milan are three ahead of Roma and can move top temporarily if they win at Bologna before Juve take the field.

Paulo Fonseca’s Roma meanwhile are on a fine recent run despite an injury crisis that kept a host of first team starters out of action over the last few weeks.

The Portuguese has his side playing well despite missing three starting midfielders to injury and central defender Federico Fazio following his straight red card in their 4-0 win at Udinese last weekend.

They are set to have further selection problems next week after Fazio’s replacement Mert Cetin was sent off for two bookable offences deep in stoppage time.

Zaniolo’s long range effort in the 19th minute came in a dominating opening period in which Napoli had to thank keeper Alex Meret for keeping the score down by saving Aleksandar Kolarov’s 26th-minute penalty.

Napoli then came back as the half wore on and looked on in disbelief as Milik crashed a header against the bar before Piotr Zielinski’s shot thumped back out off the post.

However Roma took back control after the break and deservedly doubled their lead when Mario Rui handled Javier Pastore’s cross in the penalty area, allowing Veretout to score his first goal for the club with a spot-kick that just about beat Meret.

Justin Kluivert then hit the woodwork for the hosts before Milik pounced to halve the deficit when he tapped in substitute Hirving Lozano, but the away side couldn’t force an equaliser.


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