Roma snapped a four-game winless streak by beating Cagliari 2-1 to close the gap on Serie A leaders Juventus to seven points. The capital club had drifted off the pace in the title race thanks to four straight draws but goals from Adem Ljajic and Leandro Paredes – both set up by full debutant Daniele Verde – put them back on track. Gianfranco Zola's Cagliari, who found a late consolation from substitute Paul-Jose M'Poku at Stadio Sant'Elia, remain in 17th place and one point clear of the relegation zone following back-to-back defeats. The hosts were immediately dangerous with Danilo Avelar's cross from deep to the far post causing Vasilis Torosidis plenty of problems before he cleared the ball. Roma bit back through Jose Holebas, who picked out the onrushing Francesco Totti only for Avelar to make a crucial block. Cagliari went very close to opening the scoring in the 19th minute. Duje Cop burst past Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa with his pace before testing Morgan De Sanctis with a deceptive low shot to the near post Roma grew in confidence after Ljajic drew a nervous save from Zeljko Brkic and, in the 27th minute, Seydou Keita was unlucky not to turn home a superb pass from teenager Verde. The 18-year-old would provide the assist for Roma's first goal, though. A deftly chipped ball from the young striker left Ljajic all alone in front of Brkic and the Serbian gave the goalkeeper no chance with a smooth finish off his right boot. Cagliari looked good for an equaliser in the first 20 minutes of the second half, with Daniele Conti driving a volley at De Sanctis before Cop dragged an excellent save out of the former Napoli keeper. The islanders kept pushing and Godfred Donsah was next to try his luck with a daisy-cutter that just trickled past a post. With Cagliari now dominating, Cop should have levelled in the 78th minute but the Croatian somehow ballooned his shot over the bar from a one-on-one with De Sanctis. Despite their travails, the afternoon would not belong to Cagliari as Roma doubled their lead five minutes from time. The goal came from a second assist for breakthrough performer Verde, who picked out Argentinian midfielder Paredes for a confident volley over Brkic's shoulders. Cagliari did enjoy some late joy, five minutes into stoppage time, as their on-loan Al Arabi striker M'Poku nodded Avelar's cross beyond De Sanctis, but it was too little, too late.
Football SERIE A