Serie A: Destro to rescue as Roma end winless run
Milan: Mattia Destro struck a second-half winner on his return from a long injury lay-off to hand Roma a 2-1 win at home to Fiorentina which reduced the gap on Serie A leaders Juventus to three points on Sunday.
A run of four consecutive draws, coupled with Juventus`s 2-0 win away to Bologna on Friday, had left Roma with a six-point deficit to the Serie A champions.
But despite the constant threat from a Fiorentina side intent on securing Champions League qualification for next season, Rudi Garcia`s men dug deep to claim their first win since the end of October.
Destro, sidelined since the start of the season with injury, told Sky Sport Italia: "Being out for so long was frustrating but finally I`m back. To play again was wonderful and to score was the icing on the cake."
"It was a great performance and we`re still unbeaten," said Garcia.
Having maintained since the start of the campaign that Roma`s main objective is a top three finish and qualification for the Champions League, the French coach sent a scudetto warning to Juventus.
"Juve could win the title as well as the Champions League, and I wish them good luck for their trip (Tuesday) to Galatasaray," he added.
"But we`re also in contention for the title. If we avoid too many injuries, we can have a great season."
Fiorentina remained in fifth, 13 points behind Juve but only five off Napoli, who sit third and in the first Champions League qualifying place.
Coach Vincenzo Montella called it a "balanced, open game" but admitted their fourth defeat had hurt: "Defeat hurts, because it was a crucial game in terms of results and our place in the table. But all defeats hurt."
In Sunday`s late match Inter spurned the chance to close the gap on Napoli, who were held to a surprise 3-3 draw on Saturday against Udinese, after being held to the same scoreline by Parma with both Rodrigo Palacio and Nicola Sansone bagging a brace.
Sansone opened in the 11th minute when he ran on to a through ball as Inter`s defence looked the other way to beat Handanovic with a low drive inside the keeper`s near post.
Palacio levelled on the stroke of half time when he converted Jonathan`s cross but Inter were stunned only two minutes later when Marco Parolo bundled the ball home after Handanovic had fumbled at his near post.
The match swung in Inter`s direction in the space of three second-half minutes.
Nine minutes after the restart Palacio rose to meet Ricardo Alvarez`s cross to send a header towards goal which Antonio Mirante could only push off the post and into the net.
Two minutes later Palacio headed down for Fredy Guarin and the Colombian took one touch before sending a deflected strike past the wrong-footed Mirante.
Inter`s joy was short-lived, however, Parma pulling level only three minutes later when Sansone brushed off Esteban Cambiasso to send Mattia Cassani`s cross past the beaten Handanovic.
Both sides had chances for the winner but Inter were left with most regrets after Cambiasso fired straight at Mirante after Yuto Nagatomo`s pass in second-half injury time.
Inter boss Walter Mazzarri had labelled last week`s 1-1 draw with Sampdoria the worst performance he had seen from his team and after their third successive stalemate said: "We had a bad start and it took us until their goal to get into the match.
"We must reflect on how we deal with certain situations as we have a habit of going too deep after taking the lead and we end up dropping points."
Roberto Donadoni was happy with Parma`s performance and felt they could have shaded it at the end.
"Coming to the San Siro, scoring three goals and creating another four chances is not to be sniffed at," Donadoni told Sky Sport Italia.
"In all honesty there is some disappointment, as we could`ve won tonight."