Edin Dzeko pads Serie A goals lead as Roma thrash Milan
Milan 1 - 4 Roma

Edin Dzeko pads Serie A goals lead as Roma thrash Milan

Edin Dzeko scored twice in a 4-1 victory at AC Milan that ensures Roma head into next weekend's capital-city showdown with Juventus with a faint hope of winning the Serie A title.

The Bosnian struck twice in the first half at San Siro to boost the Giallorossi to within seven points of reigning champions and leaders Juve, who will take the Scudetto if they can avoid defeat in Rome.

Luciano Spalletti's men will, however, have every confidence they can slash the gap to four points heading into the final two games of the season, given how impressive they were on Sunday night.

When Milan tried to mount a late comeback, with Mario Pasalic spoiling Roma's clean sheet, the response was rapid as a goal from substitute Stephan El Shaarawy confirmed the outcome.

Gabriel Paletta then allowed Daniele De Rossi to add insult to injury by conceding a penalty that the Italy midfielder converted at the death, with the Milan centre-back dismissed for his troubles.

Roma's triumph owed much to their resolute defending against a three-pronged Milan attack which has, despite the home club's travails, previously seen off the likes of Juve, Lazio and Fiorentina.

But while failure to win at San Siro would simply mean further embarrassment for the Rossoneri, who find themselves six points away from the Europa League places, a misstep in Milan would have been critical to Roma's ailing title bid.

With that in mind they poured forward in determined fashion following kickoff and, after resisting a few attempted counter-attacks, they scored the opening goal.

Eight minutes in Dzeko played a one-two with Mohamed Salah before blasting a first-time shot past Gianluigi Donnarumma and into the top corner.

The Giallorossi almost made it 2-0 when Salah pinged Diego Perotti's cross over the bar from close range, and Milan soon bit back with Gerard Deulofeu ruffling the side-netting with a fierce effort.

Roma returned to the attack and only a miracle save from 18-year-old goalkeeper Donnarumma kept Perotti out before Dzeko seized on a poor Leonel Vangioni clearance and shot over.

Milan should have levelled when Jose Sosa's sighter nearly caught Wojciech Szczesny unawares -- the Pole pushed the rocket over the bar with his fingertips.

Instead, just before the half-hour mark, Roma struck again, with Dzeko grabbing his 27th league goal of the season.

Leandro Paredes' cross cut out the Rossoneri back-line and the Bosnian found the back of the net with a bullet header.

Roma could have made it three heading into the break but Donnarumma kept Milan alive with strong saves against Radja Nainggolan and then Perotti.

The second half was less frenetic than the first and it was not until the hour that Donnarumma got another feel of the ball when substitute El Shaarawy tested his aim.

Emerson thought he could do better and sent the teenager sprawling before Dzeko snaffled Nainggolan's pass and clipped wide.

The visiting fans briefly fell silent in the 76th minute when Pasalic turned home a rebounding Sosa effort at a corner, but within two minutes the roars returned to the Curva Nord.

De Rossi's free kick fell temptingly for Dzeko but he chose not to go for the hat trick, instead setting up El Shaarawy for a stunning finish at the far post, further wounding his former employers.

The salt was rubbed in by De Rossi, who punished Paletta's red-card foul on Salah with a spot kick.

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