Serie A: Roma slump again as Inter, Genoa launch Euro charge
Roma`s Serie A title hopes were kept in check by a scoreless draw at home to basement side Parma on Sunday as Genoa and Inter Milan hit nine goals between them to boost their chances of European football next season.
Roma ended a run of four consecutive draws with a precious 2-1 away to Cagliari last week to close to within seven points of leaders and champions Juventus.
But after a thrilling encounter at the Stadio Olimpico, Rudi Garcia`s men have left themselves in danger of falling 10 points behind the Bianconeri, who travel to Cesena in Sunday`s late match.
Garcia had several injury concerns, meaning Ashley Cole stepped in for Jose Holebas at left-back, although Daniele De Rossi was welcomed back to defensive midfield duties.
With captain Francesco Totti still flu-hit, Seydou Doumbia made his debut alongside Ivory Coast compatriot Gervinho at the centre of a three-pronged attack with Adem Ljajic, the Africans thrown straight into the mix after their recent triumph at the Africa Cup of Nations.
Parma are on the brink of going into administration -- the issue of unpaid wages could decide the club`s future on Monday -- but if there was fear among Roberto Donadoni`s men, they kept it well hidden.
Parma frustrated Roma throughout, especially in an entertaining second half when teenager Daniele Verde, who scored his maiden Roma goal last week, replaced De Rossi on the hour mark.
Moments later Cole set up Gervinho nicely in front of the goal but the Ivorian`s shot from just inside the area was straight at Antonio Mirante.
Another Cole ball found Nainggolan in space to the right of the area but the Belgian`s low drive flashed inches wide of Mirante`s upright.
Verde was giving Parma`s back line all sorts of problems, the 18-year-old`s movement keeping the intensity high and opening up space for Nainggolan and Alessandro Florenzi.
On 71 minutes the Belgian delivered a delightful ball with the outside of his right foot towards the back post but Doumbia just failed to make contact.
Florenzi was then sent through on the right but Doumbia was a yard behind the play when the Italian drove straight across goal.
Parma spent almost the entire second half behind the half-way line, but Roma could still not find the opening.
Late on, Verde delivered a great ball into space near the back post but Doumbia just missed with the head and after the ball bounced up for Cole his effort came off the upright as Mirante scrambled to save.
Cole then spurned a great chance to snatch victory for the hosts when he volleyed Florenzi`s curling delivery from the right flank over the bar.
Genoa, meanwhile, continued to reap the rewards of signing M`Baye Niang on loan from AC Milan with the Frenchman hitting a brace in a 5-2 drubbing of Verona, with veteran Luca Toni hitting a brace for the visitors.
It was Genoa`s second win on the trot following a seven-game winless streak and saw Gian Piero Gasperini`s men up to seventh, 18 points behind Juventus and seven behind Napoli, who remain third after Saturday`s shock 3-1 loss to Palermo.
Inter`s 3-0 win over Palermo last week ended a three-game winless run and seemed to open up the floodgates for Roberto Mancini`s men, who grabbed a precious 4-1 win away to Atalanta with Fredy Guarin hitting a brace.
The Nerazzurri moved up to 10th place, 21 points behind Juventus but two ahead of city rivals AC Milan, who were whistled off the pitch at the San Siro after a 1-1 draw with struggling Empoli.
Elsewhere, Antonio Candreva`s first-half penalty secured the points for Lazio in a 1-0 win away to Udinese while Omar El Kaddouri secured a share of the spoils for hosts Torino in a 1-1 draw with Cagliari, who saw Ghanaian Godfred Donsah open the scoring on 34 minutes.