Roma close the gap on Inter

Roma move to within five points of Serie A champions Inter Milan with win over Catania.

    Roma's Mirko Vucinic, right, scored the only goal of the game to keep his team in title contention [AFP]
    AS Roma increased the pressure on Serie A leaders Inter Milan by beating Catania 1-0 at the Stadio Olimpico, closing the gap between the two teams to just five points.

    Montenegro forward Mirko Vucinic, up front alone with Francesco Totti suspended and Luca Toni injured, scored the only goal of the game as Roma took their unbeaten run in the Italian league to 15 matches with their seventh win in a row.

    The result means that Roma have now shaved six points off Inter's lead over the last three matches with the reigning champions having drawn three in a row, including Saturday's 0-0 stalemate at home to Sampdoria.

    Inter lead with 55 points, Roma are second on 50 and AC Milan are third with 48 after beating Bari 2-0 away with goals from Marco Borriello and Alexandre Pato.

    Jose Mourinho's Inter were reduced to nine men after just 38 minutes following the dismissals of centre-backs Walter Samuel and Ivan Cordoba and Roma made sure they took the advantage of that result despite some late nerves.

    Finding form

    Roma started the season poorly with three wins, two draws and five defeats in their first 10 games of the season but have since taken 39 from a possible 45 points.

    Claudio Ranieri's side, who lost for the first time in 21 matches in Thursday's Europa League defeat at Panathinaikos, have stormed up Serie A after a sticky start and host Inter in late March in one of their 13 remaining games.

    Asked if the title race had been reopened, Ranieri told Sky TV: "No, no. Honestly no. You still can't say it, but we move forward. Our mind is on the Europa League campaign. Inter are a great side."

    Juventus moved up to fourth and back into Champions League qualification after a patchy 2-1 victory at Bologna, their third win in a row under Alberto Zaccheroni.

    They were off to a flying start when Brazilian playmaker Diego, criticised by fans and media for his poor form, sliced through the Bologna defence on four minutes and slotted home after his first effort had been saved.

    Results & fixtures

    Saturday February 20

     Genoa 3-0 Udinese
     Inter Milan 0-0 Sampdoria

    Sunday February 21

     Atalanta 0-1 Chievo
     Bari 0-2 AC Milan
     Bologna 1-2 Juventus
     Cagliari 2-0 Parma
     Fiorentina 2-1 Livorno
     Palermo 3-1 Lazio
     Roma 1-0 Catania
     Siena 0-0 Napoli

    Fabio Cannavaro was again left on the bench with Juve playing three at the back but their defence was exposed when Antonio Busce bundled in the equaliser after first hitting the post with keeper Gianluigi Buffon nowhere.

    Substitute Antonio Candreva settled matters midway through the second half after an excellent pass from Alessandro Del Piero, while Felipe Melo had a third goal ruled out for offside.

    Bologna had chances to level before Andrea Raggi was sent off late on.

    Napoli lost fourth place after a dull 0-0 draw at rock-bottom Siena, their third goalless stalemate in their last four matches, with the other being a 3-1 defeat.

    They sit fifth now just ahead of Palermo, 3-1 winners against Lazio, and Sampdoria on goal difference while Genoa and Cagliari are just two points further back.

    Atalanta lost 1-0 at home to Chievo to stay in the relegation zone.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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