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Pazzini dents Roma title hopes
Sampdoria striker Giampaolo Pazzini scored twice to stun Roma and prevent them from moving back into first place in Serie A.

Roma captain Francesco Totti opened the scoring in the 14th minute before Pazzini restored parity early in the second half. With Roma looking to reclaim the lead, Pazzini struck on a fast counter-attack with five minutes remaining to silence a jam-packed Stadio Olimpico.

With the win, Samp climbed into fourth place - the last Champions League qualifying spot. Roma now go into the final three games trailing league leaders Inter Milan by two points.

The Giallorossi went into the game on the back of six straight league wins, including last weekend's 2-1 derby triumph over Lazio, as part of a 24-match unbeaten run.

Roma coach Claudio Ranieri left Luca Toni on the bench and played with an attacking formation with Totti, Jeremy Menez and Vucinic up front. Vucinic, the hero of Roma's come-from-behind triumph over Lazio last weekend, had the first chance early on but his diagonal strike went wide.

Shortly after, Simone Perrotta's right-footed strike from the edge of the area forced Sampdoria goalkeeper Marco Storari to dive to his right to clear.

The home side dominated possession and it didn't take long for them to take the lead. Vucinic served Totti inside the area and his left-footed volley towards the far post beat Storari.

Samp almost levelled the score two minutes later when former Roma star Antonio Cassano latched onto Stefano Guberti's cross from the right, but his powerful header went over the bar.

In the 19th minute, Vucinic found Totti on the left and his diagonal strike forced Storari to fully stretch. Midway through the first half, Nicolas Burdisso made a great clearance from Cassano's goal-bound strike, with Roma goalkeeper Julio Sergio out of position.

Roma almost made it 2-0 before the half-hour mark. After Storari did well to parry Menez's bullet effort, the ball fell to Totti but his close-range attempt went wide. Shortly before half-time, Vucinic forced Storari to make a fine save from his angled strike from 20 yards.

Sampdoria coach Luigi Del Neri, a former boss at Roma, made a double substitution after the break with Fernando Tissone and Daniele Mannini entering the pitch.

The visitors showed more determination and were rewarded in the 52nd minute. Cassano got past his marker and provided a perfect cross to Pazzini at the far post and the striker headed past Julio Sergio.

Roma were quick to react with Menez latching onto Vucinic's cross, only for his powerful header to be deflected by Samp's Reto Ziegler for a corner.

On the hour mark, Pizzaro's bullet strike from 20 yards went just wide of the near post. and minutes later, Totti played a one-two with Menez and the captain's shot went over the bar.

As the end of the game drew near, Ranieri brought on Toni as a replacement for Perrotta.

Toni almost made an immediate impact with a close-range header from Pizarro's cross forcing a great save from Storari but just when Roma looked to be playing at their best, Samp struck.

Mannini surged on the left flank and played the ball into the heart of the area where Pazzini lost his marker to strike the ball past Julio Sergio.

Roma's desperate attempts to equalise proved to no avail as Samp celebrated on the pitch while Roma players, in stark contrast to last week when they defeated Lazio in a thrilling fashion, walked off the field with their heads down.

The Romans travel to Palermo next Sunday while they will be hoping for a favour from their city rivals Lazio who host Inter Milan.
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