Gervinho reignites Scudetto race

Roma kept their hopes of Scudetto glory alive with a hard-fought 3-1 away win over Hellas Verona in Serie A’s early kick-off on Sunday.

Following Juventus’ 1-1 draw with Lazio in the capital on Saturday, the pressure was on the Giallorossi to claim all three points and strikes from Adem Ljajic and Gervinho either side of a Emil Hallfredsson goal and Francesco Totti’s late penalty ensured the visitors capitalised on their rivals’ slip-up.

Much of the first half was a stale, flat affair. Roma were perhaps the better of the two teams, with Maicon’s cross almost wrong-footing Rafael in the Verona goal before Mattia Destro failed match his turn with a finish.

What was more noticeable in the early exchanges was the feistiness of both teams, with Vasilis Torosidis, Romulo and Radja Nainggolan all making committed challenges – the latter two both picking up bookings.

As the game wore on, Roma began to craft more and more sights of goal. Rafael was forced to paw a looping Leandro Castan effort over the bar before Ljajic lifted an effort off target after picking up a poor clearance on the edge of the box.

Perhaps the best chance came on 34 minutes, when Gervinho flew down the left and squared it to Destro, who contrived to put it over just a couple of yards from goal.

In an almost identikit move, though, Gervinho set up the first goal, this time laying it on for Ljajic, whose deft flick went beyond Rafael on the stroke of half-time.

Verona came out with renewed vigour in the second period and were back on level terms within a matter of minutes. Juan Iturbe and Massimo Donati combined to set up Hallfredsson and the Icelandic midfielder unleashed a brilliant left-footed shot which Morgan De Sanctis had no chance of saving.

That only served to wake up Roma and after conceding a corner following a goal-mouth scramble, Gervinho picked up the loose ball, drove past two men and smashed a right-footed effort into the bottom corner.

Having regained the lead, the capital club never looked to be in danger of losing and the introduction of Totti saw the game out of sight. After driving wide from distance, the veteran was handed the chance to put the game beyond all doubt from the spot after Rafael Marques felled Vasilis Torosidis and made no mistake.

This result leaves Roma just six points off defending Serie A champions Juventus and six ahead of third-placed Napoli.