Serie A - Roma ease into second after win
Roma exploited suicidal tendencies by Cagliari to win 3-0 at the Stadio Olimpico and go second in Serie A.
Despite being well below their best and often under the cosh, Claudio Ranieri’s side took a first-half lead thanks to Francesco Totti’s penalty.
The Giallorossi continued to struggle in the second half but sealed the win when visiting keeper Michael Agazzi blotted his copybook with a howler that Simone Perrotta punished.
They added a late third when, with Cagliari throwing everyone forward, substitutes Mirko Vucinic and Jeremy Menez combined, the Frenchman rounding the keeper and finishing with ease.
Victory means Roma are three points off leaders Milan, although they could slip a couple of places by the end of the weekend with Napoli, Lazio and Internazionale in action on Sunday.
Cagliari stay ninth although could slip into the bottom half if results go against them.
Roma started sluggishly, with Andrea Cossu and Roberto Acquafresca forcing saves from Julio Sergio as the visitors looked more likely to open the scoring.
Indeed Ranieri’s side were lacking inspiration and any real goal threat until they were somewhat fortuitously awarded a penalty midway through the first when Daniele De Rossi was adjudged to have been manhandled by Michele Canini.
Replays suggested any contact was minimal and initiated by De Rossi, but it was foolish from Canini and the returning Totti - in for injured Adriano - smacked the spot-kick into the roof of the net.
The goal settled Roma’s nerves as they slipped into a solid possession game, Marco Borriello denied by Agazzi and incorrectly called offside when John Arne Riise sent him clean through.
There were some late nerves in the half as Julio Sergio spilled an Alessandro Agostini daisy-cutter but his blushes were spared by a clearance from fellow Brazilian Juan.
The second half was a dry affair in large with Roma lurching back to their early first-half form as Cagliari came at them, Cossu denied by a superb Philippe Mexes tackle and a wonderful Francesco Pisano cross just evading the stretching Acquafresca and Cossu.
With Borriello disappointing all night, defensively-minded duo Mexes and De Rossi decided to take some initiative going forward and a long-range shot from the latter sparked their game back into life.
Agazzi made a superb save to keep that out but, from the corner that followed, he fumbled Juan’s weak header and Perrotta gobbled up a simple finish.
It was game over with 20 minutes left and, although Cagliari fought gamely to get back into it, Mexes and Juan were excellent at the back as Roma closed out victory.
Sitting back and soaking up the pressure, Roma finally looked dangerous and took what was ultimately a deserved third when Vucinic fed Menez, who raced clear of the defence and showed some feints and shimmies in rounding Agazzi and finishing with aplomb.
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