Serie A: Roma end run of draws to remain in Serie A hunt
A late strike by Leandro Paredes ended Roma`s run of four successive league draws to reduce the gap on leaders Juventus to seven points and keep Rudi Garcia`s men in the Serie A title hunt on Sunday.
Rome: A late strike by Leandro Paredes ended Roma`s run of four successive league draws to reduce the gap on leaders Juventus to seven points and keep Rudi Garcia`s men in the Serie A title hunt on Sunday.
Elsewhere, Napoli tightened their grip on third place with a dominant 3-1 home win over Udinese at the San Paolo where Dries Mertens opened the scoring and prompted an own goal by Frenchman Cryril Thereau in the second half.
Samuel Eto`o came off the bench for Sampdoria in Genoa but failed to make the difference as Sinisa Mihajlovic`s men saw their push for a Champions League place stall after being held 1-1 by Sassuolo.
Juventus sit top on 53 points, with Roma second on 46. Napoli are a further four points adrfit in third and Fiorentina, who dominated a five-goal thriller with Atalanta earlier, moved up to fourth on 35 points.
Sampdoria are fifth, also on 35 points, while Lazio, in sixth, can move up to fourth if they account for Genoa on Monday.
Juventus had taken their lead over Roma to 10 points on Saturday with a commanding 3-1 win over Milan in Turin, where Carlos Tevez took his league-leading goals tally to 14 for the season.
Roma`s title push stalled due to four consecutive league draws and with several key players missing, their trip to Sardinia was set to be anything but plain sailing.
Alessandro Florenzi, Kostas Manolas, Daniele De Rossi, Kevin Strootman, Juan Iturbe, Gervinho and Seydou Doumbia were all unavailable against a Cagliari team that has enjoyed a minor resurgence under the guidance of Gianfranco Zola.
Captain Francesco Totti shook off `flu symptoms to spearhead a three-pronged attack with 18-year-old Daniele Verde to his right and Adem Ljajic out on the left.
Cagliari had the brighter start and Roma `keeper Morgan De Sanctis had to use his legs to save from Duje Cop at the near post.
Verde, however, made the most of his Serie A debut for the Giallorossi and was Roma`s most dangerous player in the opening half.
He first hit the side-netting from a Seydou Keita assist before sending a lob into the path of Ljajic for the Bosnian to beat Zeljko Brkic in the 18th minute.
Roma survived a second-half onslaught by Cagliari before virtually sealing the points when Paredes fired a superb first-timer from the edge of the area to beat Zeljko at the keeper`s far post.
Cagliari reduced arrears in the fifth minute of injury time when Paul-Jose M`Poku rose to send a looping header over De Sanctis.
However the Sardinians` 11th reverse of the campaign means they remain just one place and one point above the drop zone.
Inter Milan, who are 13th on 27 points off the pace, host in-form Palermo in Sunday`s late game looking to rescue their disastrous season.
Parma`s match with fellow-strugglers Chievo was postponed until Wednesday after heavy snowfall in recent days had left Parma`s pitch unplayable.