STADIO OLIMPICO (Rome) – Roma moved into the Champions League places in Serie A with a 3-0 win over rock-bottom Brescia at the Stadio Olimpico on Sunday, as Chris Smalling played a starring role for the Giallorossi.
The on-loan Manchester United defender headed in the opener before setting up goals from Gianluca Mancini and Edin Dzeko to move Roma up to fourth place on 25 points, although Cagliari can move ahead of them again by avoiding defeat away to Lecce later on Sunday.
Brescia’s well-organised defence frustrated Roma in the first half as Justin Kluivert and Lorenzo Pellegrini couldn’t hit the target with their best chances, while at the other end Pau Lopez’s flying one-handed save denied Emanuele Ndoj before Alfredo Donnarumma headed a corner wide from six yards out.
Roma had nine corners before the interval which came to little, but within three minutes of the restart Pellegrini’s delivery from the corner flag found Smalling’s head and the ball rolled in with the aid of a deflection.
The goal made the centre-back the first Englishman to score two goals in a Serie A season since David Beckham for AC Milan in 2008/09.
Smalling then turned provider on the 57th minute, heading a cross into the path of Mancini, who looped a wonderful dipping half-volley into the top corner.
Zaniolo made it three with a tap-in from a Jesse Joronen parry, but the goal was disallowed as the ball had gone out of play in the build-up.
Roma didn’t have to wait much longer to notch their third of the afternoon and Smalling was again involved, nodding a corner into the path of Dzeko to turn and tuck in from close range.
The Bosnia-Herzegovina international was celebrating his second goal of the afternoon after drilling a finish in at the near post, but the offside flag was up to deny him.
Brescia were then denied a consolation with five minutes remaining as substitute Florian Aye bundled in from close range, but he was adjudged to have handled the ball.