A Nikola Kalinic brace helped Roma to see off Cagliari 4-3 in an enthralling game at the Sardegna Arena on Sunday evening to keep their own dreams of a Champions League spot alive.
Rolando Maran’s side took the lead through a magnificent Joao Pedro goal, but two quick-fire Kalinic strikes and second half efforts from Justin Kluivert and Henrikh Mkhitaryan left the home fans less than happy as the pressure begins to mount on their under-fire coach.
Gaston Pereiro got his first ever goal for Cagliari and Joao Pedro his 16th of the season from a penalty rebound as the home side almost mounted a comeback, but Roma held on to win and three fundamental points.
The result means the Giallorossi sit fifth in the Serie A table, just three points behind Atalanta who occupy fourth spot, while Cagliari can’t seem to buy a win, with the defeat extending their unbeaten run to 11 games.
Robin Olsen was to thank for ensuring that Cagliari weren’t at least one goal down in the opening ten minutes, making a handful of great saves to deny Cengiz Under and Nikola Kalinic in particular.
Under was causing all sorts of problems for Luca Pellegrini and Ragnar Klavan down Roma’s right-hand side, this time cutting in before unleashing a curling effort which came back off the crossbar after the Estonian had been caught napping again.
Olsen pulled off a couple more saves before the game took a surprising twist, Joao Pedro superbly cushioning Christian Oliva’s through ball before a subtle lob left Pau Lopez with no chance, a wonder strike for the Brazilian’s 15th Serie A goal of the season.
It was short lived though, as Kalinic found an immediate response, tapping in at the back post after Pellegrini calamitously spooned an Aleksander Kolarov cross into the striker’s path a minute later.
The Giallorossi forward grabbed his brace just before the break, after Mkhitaryan had beaten Klavan before bursting into the box to square for the striker to pass into the back of the net, despite the best efforts of Olsen once more.
The second half started in the same manner as the first, Klavan giving the ball away, Under ghosting past Pellegrini with a frightening turn of pace and Kluivert hitting the crossbar after a fine pull-back from the Turkish winger.
Kluivert got his goal on the 64th minute after racing clear from a Kalinic pass before despatching calmly under Olsen in the Casteddu goal, and thus bringing out further frustration from the home side’s Curva Nord.
Substitute Gaston Pereiro grabbed his first goal for Cagliari with 15 minutes left to play, going on a mazy run before placing a lovely, left-footed effort into the bottom corner from the edge of the box to guarantee a tight finish.
A Mkhitaryan goal topped off a good performance from the visitors, tapping in a dangerous, in-swinging Kolarov freekick to give Roma a two-goal cushion before more drama at the other end as the game took another twist.
The Casteddu were awarded a penalty after a brief VAR check and Pedro netted his 16th of the season, following up from a rebound after his initial effort was saved by Pau Lopez, making it 4-3 on the 89th minute. However an equaliser wasn’t forthcoming and Roma left Sardinia with all three points.