Roma ended their four-month winless streak at home with a 1-0 victory over Napoli in Serie A on Saturday, in a key match for Champions League places. Miralem Pjanic finished off a swift counterattack for Roma from the centre of the area in the 25th minute, when Alessandro Florenzi set him up after a string of precise passes and his low shot beat keeper Mariano Andujar. Morgan De Sanctis, the Roma goalkeeper had an excellent afternoon making crucial saves in the second half.
The Derby del Sole was a head-to-head for Champions League places, as six points separated second from fifth. The Partenopei were coming off three consecutive away defeats and a controversial 1-1 home draw with Atalanta. The Giallorossi were clinging to second place after a 1-0 win away to Cesena, but hadna t won at the Olimpico since November. Francesco Totti, Gervinho, Douglas Maicon, Seydou Keita, Salih Ucan and Kevin Strootman missed out, while Jorginho replaced suspended Gokhan Inler. Security was tight for Napoli’s first visit to Roma since a fan of the southern club died following a shooting before last season’s Italian Cup final at the Stadio Olimpico. Residents of the entire Campania region that includes Naples were barred from buying tickets for the match and 1,000 police officers were called in to maintain order.
A cagey opening from both sides saw very little happen but Roma captain Daniele De Rossi did find himself in the book early on. A Dries Mertens corner scraped the head of Miguel Angel Britos, who woulda ve scored from six yards with better contact. There was a similar chance at the other end, Miralem Pjanica s free kick whipping inches past Davide Astori and the far post. Daniele De Rossi risked a second yellow card after just 16 minutes for a handling offence, but was given a warning. Napoli could have stunned the Stadio Olympico and taken the lead in the 13th minute but David Lopez failed to get much of a connection onto Dries Mertens superb corner. Jose Holebas was booked by referee Nicola Rizzoli for a foul on Jose Callejon right on the edge of the area which led to Fouzi Ghoulam having the first real shot on target but his free-kick was easily gathered by Morgan De Sanctis. Roma broke the deadlock with a well-worked goal, as Juan Manuel Iturbe spread down the right for Alessandro Florenzi, who pulled back for Pjanic to side-foot from 12 yards. The Napoli defence was all drawn to Iturbe, leaving his teammate unmarked. It was the Bosniana s first goal since November 30, which was also the Giallorossia s last home victory. Napoli had a golden chance to equalize after Gonzalo Higuaina s through ball split the home defense and put Jose Callejon through on goal but the Spaniard dallied before laying the ball back to Jonathan De Guzman whoa s shot was blocked by the arm of Kostas Manolas, which brought loud penalty appeals from the Napoli players but Rizzoli waved away the appeals. Higuain showed some great skill, towards the end of the half, to get free in the box but his curling effort just went over. Mertens was eventually crowded out at the by-line after a great solo run, then Jose Callejon went on the counter and set up Jonathan de Guzman, forcing Kostas Manolas into a decisive sliding block. Roma then went on the counter from the same move, Adem Ljajic blasting off target, while Gonzalo Higuain skimmed the far top corner with a curling effort.
Napoli started the second half much brighter with Mertens having two great chances to equalise in quick succession after great jinking runs into the Roma box but the Belgiana s shot were both well saved by De Sanctis. De Sanctis was proving to be Romaa s saviour, against his former club, as he made a brilliant save to claw away a first time Manolo Gabbiadini effort after a good run by De Guzman. With Romaa s defence looking nervous Gabbiadini had another chance when the ball was laid off to him on the edge of the area but his shot this time went straight at De Sanctis. De Sanctis stuck up a hand to palm a fierce Manolo Gabbiadini volley out from under the bar, then the ex-Sampdoria strikera s finish was too central to beat the goalkeeper. Lorenzo Insigne made his comeback after sustaining knee ligament damage back in November. It was all Napoli in the second half, though Roma coulda ve doubled their lead when Iturbe dribbled round Mariano Andujar only to hit the side-netting. De Sanctis flew to pluck a dangerous cross out of the air after De Rossi lost possession inside the penalty area. Despite Napoli throwing everybody forward, including goalkeeper Andujar, it was the home side who held on to record a vital three points.
Roma ended their four-month winless streak at home with this victory over Napoli in Serie A in a key match for Champions League places. Second-place Roma moved provisionally four points ahead of their city rivals Lazio, who visit relegation-threatened Cagliari later on Saturday. Also later, the defending champions, Juventus, who lead Roma by 11 points, host mid-table Empoli.