Roma saw off a determined Empoli 3-1 at the Stadio Olimpico on Saturday evening in Serie A.
The Giallorossi took the lead through Miralem Pjanic before Daniele De Rossi and Mohamed Salah put the game beyond doubt. Empoli got a goal back from Marcel Buchel, but it was little more than a consolation.
Rudi Garcia’s side enjoyed the best of the early exchanges but failed to put Lukasz Skorupski under any pressure until he had to gather a tame Gervinho header on the quarter hour. Empoli were set to respond on the counter-attack but found the Roma defence in a stubborn mood, making for an open half, but with few attempts on goal.
Just after the half hour, the match briefly sparked into life. Gervinho was released by Mohamed Salah, but failed to get a shot away under pressure from Mario Rui. Immediately the Azzurri raced down the other end to see Rade Krunic fire an effort straight at Wojciech Szczesny.
Szczesny was called into action again before the end of the half when Massimo Maccarone fizzed a shot into his hands from the edge of the area, but the game went into the break goalless.
Empoli’s forays became increasingly more threatening after half-time, which prompted Garcia to introduce Radja Nainggolan a little before the hour mark in place of the anonymous Iago Falque.
The effect was immediate.
Seconds after the Belgian came on, Miralem Pjanic fired home a trademark free kick to give Roma the lead with his fourth goal of the season.
Moments later, the Bosnian midfielder was able to demonstrate his set piece prowess again by placing a corner onto the head of Daniele De Rossi. On his 500th Giallorossi appearance, De Rossi was delighted to nod it smartly home.
After a fabulous through-ball from Nainggolan, Gervinho and Salah were able to combine for the Egyptian to add a third, but couldn’t kill off the Azzurri challenge. Buchel’s strike from the edge of the box ensured a few nervous moments for the hosts towards the end of the game, but Empoli could not add to it.
The win lifts Roma up to second ahead of the rest of the weekend’s fixtures while the Azzurri, despite an impressive showing, remain just three points above the relegation zone.