Serie A: 'Improved' AS Roma close in on Champions League places with hard-fought victory against Bologna

Defenders Aleksandar Kolarov and Federico Fazio both scored in the second half as Roma closed in on the Champions League places with a hard-fought 2-1 win over Bologna on Monday.

Agence France-Presse February 19, 2019 09:41:27 IST
Serie A: 'Improved' AS Roma close in on Champions League places with hard-fought victory against Bologna
  • Roma followed their UCL last-16, first-leg win over Porto last week by consolidating the fifth position and are now just a point behind AC Milan in fourth

  • Champions Juventus are 13 points clear of second-placed Napoli after Cristiano Ronaldo sealed a 3-0 win against Frosinone on Friday.

  • Atalanta and Lazio are three points behind the Romans in sixth after losing to AC Milan (3-1) and Genoa (2-1) respectively at the weekend.

Milan: Defenders Aleksandar Kolarov and Federico Fazio both scored in the second half as Roma closed in on the Champions League places with a hard-fought 2-1 win over Bologna on Monday.

Eusebio Di Francesco's men followed their Champions League last-16, first-leg win over Porto last week by consolidating the fifth position and are now just a point behind AC Milan in fourth.

Serie A Improved AS Roma close in on Champions League places with hardfought victory against Bologna

AS Roma's Argentine defender Federico Fazio (L) celebrates with AS Roma's Italian forward Stephan El Shaarawy (R) after scoring during the Italian Serie A football match between Roma and Bologna. AFP

"We couldn't afford to fall behind today. We're happy with the three points, less so with the performance," said Di Francesco.

Champions Juventus are 13 points clear of second-placed Napoli after Cristiano Ronaldo sealed a 3-0 win against Frosinone on Friday.

Napoli lost points after being held to a goalless draw against Torino while Inter Milan are a further seven points behind in third after beating Sampdoria 2-1.

Atalanta and Lazio are three points behind the Romans in sixth after losing to AC Milan (3-1) and Genoa (2-1) respectively at the weekend.

Roma could thank Swedish goalkeeper Robin Olsen for keeping them in the game against relegation-threatened Bologna as he denied a dangerous Roberto Soriano.

Teenage midfield star Nicolo Zaniolo – who scored a brace against Porto – struggled on the wings with Stephan El Shaarawy coming on after the break and ten minutes later won the penalty which Kolarov converted to unlock the game.

It was the seventh goal this season for Serbian Kolarov, more than any defender in the top European leagues.

Captain Danile De Rossi also came off the bench after 68 minutes with Fazio breaking through to finish off with a half-volley into the bottom corner after 73 minutes.

Nicola Sansone pulled a goal back for Bologna six minutes from time to ensure a nervy finish in the Stadio Olimpico.

"We didn't turn up in the first half," said Di Francesco.

"I was expecting Zaniolo to cause (Mitchell) Dijks more problems.

"I changed tack after the break because we got stretched and Edin (Dzeko) was isolated.

"We did better in the second half in terms of getting at them and being more well-organised tactically.

"Often people say that these are the kind of three points that the great sides pick up – sometimes you have to win this way, though I don't like it.

"That said, in the second half we improved across the board. I changed a few things and I got the reaction I wanted."

This match will be a lesson for us. We worked very hard against Porto and played well on a tactical level. We weren’t so good in that respect tonight, but it was important that we got the three points.”

"We needed to win in the race for the top four," said Fazio. "Bologna played well but we stayed patient and got our reward."

Roma extended their unbeaten run to seven league games, while Bologna, who had beaten the side from the capital 2-0 earlier in the campaign, sit just two points above the relegation zone.

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