Carles Perez was the hero on his first start for Roma as the forward’s early goal secured a nervy 1-0 win over Gent in the Europa League to end a five-match winless run.
The Spaniard’s strike gives the Giallorossi a slender advantage to cling onto when they travel to Belgium for the return leg of their Round of 32 clash at the Ghelamco Arena on February 27.
Roma went in front after just 13 minutes when Perez latched onto a defence-splitting Edin Dzeko pass before finishing in composed fashion.
But the hosts were visibly nervous as they regularly conceded possession before the break, with Roman Bezus and Sven Kums shooting wide for Gent before Vadis Odjidja could only balloon over at the end of a three-on-two breakaway.
Chris Smalling came close early in the second half when his back-post volley was saved, before Bryan Cristante headed a freekick off the post, only to see the offside flag raised.
But Gent were in the ascendancy as the half wore on, with Odjidja being denied twice by flying Pau Lopez saves and the unmarked Laurent Depoitre stabbing a harmless finish into the goalkeeper’s arms from close range.
The Belgians almost got lucky late on when Lopez spilled an easy cross in a crowded box only for the ball to bounce back into his grasp, while Roma mustered a final chance of their own when Aleksandar Kolarov’s header was parried from point-blank range.