STADIO OLIMPICO (Rome) – Two late goals earned Roma a 2-0 win over Juventus at the Stadio Olimpico on Sunday that keeps them in the race for Champions League qualification.
The Giallorossi survived a first half onslaught thanks to the heroics of goalkeeper Antonio Mirante before Alessandro Florenzi and Edin Dzeko struck in the final 11 minutes to continue a poor run of form from the Serie A champions.
Massimiliano Allegri’s side have now won just once in their last five Serie A games, while Roma extended their unbeaten run in the competition to seven matches.
Juve came close to the opener after just seven minutes when Emre Can sprang the offside trap and squared a pass for Juan Cuadrado to tap in, but Mirante recovered superbly to save from point-blank range.
The visitors began to dominate possession and carve out openings, but were again denied by Mirante when the keeper flew to palm Paulo Dybala’s curling shot wide of the post.
However, Roma were finding some space on the counter and almost punished Juve when Lorenzo Pellegrini’s angled cross-shot rattled the crossbar.
Dybala was denied for a second time by Mirante when the Argentine found space to shoot inside the box only for the Roma goalkeeper to parry the effort onto the inside of the post before the rebound was desperately scrambled away.
The Serie A champions found the net after 64 minutes when Cristiano Ronaldo finished off a lightning counter-attack, but the Portuguese’s celebrations were cut short as he was flagged for offside. Roma responded immediately as Stephan El Shaarawy drew a fingertip save from Wojciech Szczesny with an ambitious effort from distance.
Allegri’s side were made to pay for their wastefulness when Roma took the lead 11 minutes from time as Florenzi played a one-two with Dzeko before dinking a finish over the outrushing Szczesny.
Juve pushed forward looking for an equaliser but were caught on the break in stoppage time as substitute Cengiz Under stormed upfield and teed up Dzeko to finish from close range.
Roma clinging on in top four race
Roma knew they simply had to win to keep their Champions League hopes alive and Claudio Ranieri’s men duly delivered.
With Sassuolo and Parma coming up in their final two games, the capital club have conquered the biggest remaining obstacle in their path, extending their unbeaten Serie A run to seven matches in the process.
They still need favours, especially if Inter beat rock-bottom Chievo at San Siro on Monday, which would send the Giallorossi three points adrift of Atalanta in fourth.
But surviving a first half onslaught to defeat the reigning champions will certainly give Ranieri’s squad the belief that they can get the job done in their final two games – at which point they can only hope those around them slip.
After a week of rampant speculation over his future at the club, Dybala had a point to prove as he was restored to Allegri’s starting line-up.
Lining up alongside Ronaldo in a 4-4-2, the Argentina international was left cursing Mirante as the Roma keeper twice denied him what would’ve been a welcome goal in the first half.
Still, they were chances that you might expect a player of Dybala’s precocious talent to put away and this performance will do little to convince the Old Lady hierarchy that he is on the verge of a return to peak form.