Nainggolan bags brace as Roma defeat Inter to close gap on Juve
Inter 1 - 3 Roma

Nainggolan bags brace as Roma defeat Inter to close gap on Juve

Roma kept up their pursuit of Serie A leaders Juventus with a 3-1 win over Inter Milan at the San Siro.

Belgian midfielder Radja Nainggolan scored twice as Roma did the league double over Inter to close the gap on Juventus to seven points.

Nainggolan opened the scoring with a well-hit shot early in the first half and doubled Roma's advantage with a superb rising shot 10 minutes into the second period.

With nine minutes remaining, Mauro Icardi marked his return from suspension with a close-range finish to reduce the deficit but Diego Perotti converted a late penalty to seal victory for Roma.

The defeat leaves Inter sixth in the table, two points behind Lazio who occupy the Europa League qualifying spot.

Roma threatened to take the lead after seven minutes when Edin Dzeko's clever pass put Mohamed Salah through but his shot from the edge of the area was saved by Samir Handanovic down to his right.

The visitors did take the lead four minutes later when Nainggolan cut inside from the left and curled a fine shot into the far corner of Handanovic's net for his eighth league goal of the season.

Inter almost hit back straight away but Joao Mario's shot was blocked by Kostas Manolas at the expense of a corner.

Salah found himself behind the Inter defence but lobbed wide of Handanovic's goal when Dzeko was well placed in support as Roma again failed to make the most of a good position against a defence struggling in the absence of suspended centre-back Miranda.

Dzeko then brought a good save out of Handanovic who dived low to his left after the striker had been played in by Kevin Strootman's pass.

Inter were rightly denied a penalty when Federico Fazio missed a low cross five minutes before the break and the defender then collided with Icardi as the Inter striker prepared to shoot.

On the stroke of half-time Inter's Marcelo Brozovic forced Wojciech Szczesny into a save with a mistimed effort from the edge of the area.

Szczesny saved a shot from Antonio Candreva, who had worked the opening himself as the hosts started the second half in determined fashion.

They were nearly level when Ivan Perisic came close only for a block from Bruno Peres, who deflected the ball over the bar.

But 10 minutes into the second half Nainggolan led a Roma counter attack and fired an unstoppable shot from outside the area into the top-left corner to double his side's lead.

Geoffrey Kondogbia was denied with 20 minutes to go when the midfielder got on the end of a flick on by Icardi but failed to make proper contact from close range with only Szczesny to beat.

With nine minutes remaining, Icardi was in the right place at the far post to force the ball over the line for his 16th goal of the season after Perisic had squared it across the Roma goal.

But any thoughts of an Inter comeback were ended three minutes later when Gary Medel brought down Dzeko and substitute Perotti scored his seventh penalty of the season, coolly slotting into the bottom corner to seal the victory for the away side.

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