Lazio Remain Third In Serie A After Sassuolo Victory

File: Lazio’s Italian forward Ciro Immobile 
Tiziana FABI / AFP

 

Felipe Caicedo snatched a late winner to keep Lazio third in Serie A with a 2-1 victory over Sassuolo on Sunday just ahead of city rivals Roma, who beat Brescia 3-0 with England defender Chris Smalling involved in all of his side’s goals.

Champions Juventus maintained their grip on the top of Serie A with a 3-1 win at Atalanta on Saturday, to stay one-point ahead of Inter Milan who eased past Torino 3-0.

The two Roman outfits are now third and fourth respectively before Cagliari, a point behind in fifth, play lowly Lecce later on Sunday.

Serie A top scorer Ciro Immobile struck to put Lazio ahead after 34 minutes in Sassuolo with his 15th league goal this season.

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But struggling Sassuolo pulled back a goal back through Francesco Caputo just before the break.

Ecuadorian Caicedo came off the bench to seal a fifth consecutive league win in injury time to keep Lazio seven points behind Inter Milan in third place.

Roma are now two points behind their local rivals after defender Smalling scored and set up the other two goals in a victory over bottom club Brescia.

Smalling, on-loan for the season from Manchester United, headed in the first from a corner after 48 minutes in the Stadio Olimpico.

The 30-year-old then provided the cross that allowed fellow defender Gianluca Mancini to volley in eight minutes later, with Edin Dzeko completing the rout on 66 minutes after Smalling’s headed assist.

Brescia, now coached by 2006 World Cup winner Fabio Grosso, remain rooted to the bottom of the table.

Forward Mario Balotelli was dropped for Sunday’s game because of his lack of commitment in training.

The Italy international tried to play down Thursday’s training ground bust-up with Grosso.

“Recovery! Coming back soon, for the moment let them talk,” the former Marseille attacker said in a post on Instagram showing him undergoing physiotherapy.

Elsewhere, Samuel Di Carmine scored the only goal as Verona piled the pressure on Fiorentina, despite Franck Ribery returning after his three-match suspension.

The Tuscany side is in tenth place with just one point from their last three games.

AFP

Pellegrini Out For Two Months After Foot Surgery

AS Roma Italian midfielder Lorenzo Pellegrini and CSKA Moscow’s Slovenian midfielder Jaka Bijol vie for the ball during the UEFA Champions League group G football match between PFC CSKA Moscow and AS Roma at the Luzhniki stadium in Moscow on November 7, 2018. Yuri KADOBNOV / AFP

 

Italy international midfielder Lorenzo Pellegrini has been ruled out for two months after undergoing foot surgery, his Serie A club Roma said Tuesday.

“Pellegrini underwent a corrective procedure on the fifth metatarsal of his right foot,” the club said in a statement.

The surgery was successful and Pellegrini should “complete his recovery in around 60 days,” it added.

Pellegrini will miss Italy’s Euro 2020 qualifier against Greece in Rome on October 12, when the Azzurri could seal their spot in next year’s continental tournament.

The 23-year-old, who has 12 caps, scored his first goal for Italy in a Euro 2020 qualifying win over Armenia last month.

AFP

Roma Fan Banned For Life Over Racist Abuse

Italian top-flight club AS Roma have banned a fan for life and informed the police of racist abuse aimed at Brazilian fullback Juan Jesus.

Roma said on the club’s official Twitter account it had filed a police complaint against the fan for using social media to send “disgusting racist insults” to the player.

“The person responsible will be banned from #ASRoma games for life,” the club said.

 

Italian football is regularly beset by racism controversies with players of African origin often targeted for abuse.

Sunday’s Italian league match between Atalanta and Fiorentina was halted for several minutes after racist chants were aimed at the Tuscan side’s Brazilian player Dalbert in a game played in Parma.

Inter Milan’s Belgian striker Romelu Lukaku and AC Milan’s Ivorian player Franck Kessie have been targeted by monkey calls this season.

Blaise Matuidi, Kalidou Koulibaly and Moise Kean were also victims last season.

FIFA president Gianni Infantino on Monday made a plea to “kick racism out” of Italian football.

Perotti Out For Two Months With Thigh Injury

Diego Perotti of AS Roma looks dejected during the pre-season friendly match between AS Roma and Real Madrid at Stadio Olimpico, Rome, Italy on 11 August 2019 (Photo by Giuseppe Maffia/NurPhoto)

 

Roma attacking midfielder Diego Perotti has been ruled out for two months with a thigh injury, the Serie A club confirmed on Monday.

The 31-year-old Argentine picked up the injury training at the weekend and missed Sunday’s Serie A opener, a 3-3 draw at home to his former club Genoa.

Perotti has “a strain in his left quadriceps muscle”, Roma said in a statement, adding he would be out between 45 and 60 days.

It means he will sit out the Rome derby against Lazio on Sunday and also league matches against Sassuolo, Bologna, Atalanta, Lecce, Cagliari and Sampadoria.

It is the latest blow for the five-times capped Argentina winger who played just 15 games last season because of injury.

AFP

Roma’s El Shaarawy Rejects Lucrative China Move – Reports

Stephan El Shaarawy of Roma during the Italian Serie A football match AS Roma v Parma at the Olimpico Stadium in Rome, Italy on May 26, 2019. AFP

 

 

Italy forward Stephan El Shaarawy has reportedly turned down a lucrative move to China and could now sign a new contract with AS Roma, Italian media reported on Thursday.

El Shaarawy had reportedly been set to sign a three-year deal with Shanghai Shenhua worth up to 16 million euros ($18.1 million) a season.

But Sky Sport Italia reported the 26-year-old had second thoughts and did not want to leave the Italian capital.

Gazzetta Dello Sport claimed the Chinese side refused the player’s demands to have an input into the club’s choice of coach and playing staff.

Shanghai Shenhua, currently 12th in the Chinese Super League, are coached by former Benfica, Atletico Madrid and Watford manager Enrique Sánchez Flores of Spain.

El Shaarawy — nicknamed ‘The Pharoah’ because of his Egyptian ancestry — only has a year left on his contract with the Serie A club, having joined Roma in 2016 from AC Milan after a loan spell in Monaco.

The 23-times capped Italian international is reportedly looking for a new deal worth four million euros a year with Roma.

He scored 11 goals in Serie A last season, as Roma finished sixth and qualified for the Europa League.

AFP

Totti Resigns As Roma Director

Italian former professional footballer and current technical director at AS Roma, Francesco Totti speaks during a press conference on June 17, 2019 at the Foro Italico sports complex in Rome.
Filippo MONTEFORTE / AFP

 

Roma legend Francesco Totti, who played for the capital club for 24 years before retiring in 2017, announced Monday that he was resigning as a director.

“At 12:41 pm on June 17, 2019, I sent an email… which was for me unimaginable: I handed in my resignation,” Totti said.

“I never thought that this moment would come.”

The 42-year-old World Cup winner said his resignation was driven by his lack of inclusion in important decision-making within the club, something he blamed on Roma’s American owner James Pallotta.

“I was a weight for the club, I was told I was too cumbersome, both as a player and a leader,” said an emotional Totti.

“Now I’m leaving and it hurts.”

Totti, who spent his entire professional career at Roma, added: “There are many things that made me think, they never let me take part. They only called me when they were in difficulty.

“In two years I’ve taken part in about 10 meetings.”

The former club captain, capped 58 times by Italy, insisted it was a “goodbye, not a farewell”, without giving further details.

“I can say that it is impossible for Totti to stay outside of Roma,” he said.

“Now I’ll take a different path, but the moment another owner really wants to count on me, I’ll be ready.”

After making his senior Roma debut aged 16 in 1993, Totti went on to score 307 goals in 785 games, winning Serie A in 2001 and the Coppa Italia twice.

His departure follows that of former teammate Daniele de Rossi, the Serie A side deciding not to renew the midfielder’s contract after 18 years at the club.

AFP

Pope Apologises To Roma For Catholic Church’s ‘Discrimination’

Pope Francis
Andreas SOLARO / AFP

 

Pope Francis apologised to the Roma people on Sunday for the Roman Catholic Church’s “discrimination” against them as he wrapped up a visit to Romania.

Making up around 10 percent of Romania’s 20 million people, many Roma are marginalised and live in poverty and have suffered centuries of discrimination and insults.

“I ask forgiveness in the name of the Church and of the Lord and I ask forgiveness of you. For all those times in history when we have discriminated, mistreated or looked askance at you,” the pope said in a speech to the Roma community in the central town of Blaj.

“My heart, however, is heavy. It is weighed down by the many experiences of discrimination, segregation and mistreatment experienced by your communities. History tells us that Christians too, including Catholics, are not strangers to such evil,” he said.

“Indifference breeds prejudices and fosters anger and resentment. How many times do we judge rashly, with words that sting, with attitudes that sow hatred and division!”

Earlier, the pontiff beatified seven Greco-Catholic bishops jailed and tortured during the Communist era.

“The new blessed ones suffered and sacrificed their lives, opposing a system of totalitarian and coercive ideology,” he told some 60,000 worshippers attending mass on a “Field of Liberty” in Blaj.

“These shepherds, martyrs of faith, garnered for and left the Romanian people a precious heritage which we can sum up in two words: freedom and mercy,” added Francis, while praising the “diversity of religious expression” in mainly Orthodox Romania.

Regime officials detained the beatified bishops overnight on October 28, 1948, accusing them of “high treason” after they refused to convert to Orthodoxy.

The Greek-Catholic Church was outlawed under 1948-89 Communist rule.

– Buried in secret –
The bishops died of maltreatment, some still in jail, others in confinement in an Orthodox monastery. They were then buried in secret — to this day the whereabouts of four of their graves is unknown.

The bars of the cells where they were held were symbolically incorporated into the throne built specially for the papal visit.

The bishops followed the Eastern Rite Catholic Church which emerged from an Orthodox schism at the end of the 17th century when the central region of Transylvania was part of the Austro-Hungarian empire.

While retaining Orthodox practices they recognised Roman Catholic papal authority — unacceptable for the Communist regime which took power following World War II. Under a 1948 decree formally abolishing the Eastern Catholic churches, Greco-Catholics were forcibly obliged to return to the Orthodox fold.

Under such stark political repression, most Romanian Catholics — who numbered more than 1.5 million in 1948, abandoned their faith and their community has shrunk to around 200,000 today in a country of 20 million, almost nine in 10 of whom profess Orthodoxy.

The politics which has seeped through Romania’s modern religious history has poisoned inter-faith relations — even if the papal visit has softened feelings to a degree.

“No matter where we go, to the town hall, to the police or to school, doors get closed,” a 72-year-old Roma, who gave his name as Ion, told AFP.

Roma, originating from northern India, suffered around five centuries of slavery before the practice was formally abolished in 1856.

But they remain a mainly poor and marginalised community — even if recent years have seen roads paved and homes getting running water and electricity.

– Seeking inclusiveness –
Francis’s arrival in Blaj to wind up his visit was part of his attempt at inclusiveness on his three-day visit to one of what remains Europe’s poorest states.

Although Romania has developed apace since obtaining EU membership in 2007 there remain some “urban or rural ghettos where nothing has changed,” according to sociologist Gelu Duminica, who heads the anti-discrimination Impreuna (Together) association.

Duminica and others in Blaj saw it as no coincidence that Francis, often seen as a defender of the rights of the most marginalised, chose the Barbu Lautaru district of Blaj, whose inhabitants are mainly Roma, to launch his appeal for tolerance and social inclusion.

“The pope’s visit is a message for those who are marginalised, disregarded or not accepted by others,” said Mihai Gherghel, an eastern Catholic priest, who supervised the construction of the Blaj church where Francis celebrated Sunday mass.

Roma Sack Coach Eusebio Di Francesco

Roma’s coach Eusebio Di Francesco/ AFP

 

Eusebio Di Francesco has been sacked as Roma coach after the team crashed out of the Champions League, the Italian club confirmed on Thursday.

Roma had taken a 2-1 advantage to Porto for the second leg of their last-16 tie on Wednesday but fell 4-3 on aggregate after a controversial penalty awarded following a VAR review deep into extra time.

“AS Roma can confirm head coach Eusebio Di Francesco has left the club with immediate effect,” the team said in a statement.

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“The club would like to thank Eusebio for his work during his time at AS Roma and wish him success in the future.”

An urgent meeting had been called on Thursday afternoon in Rome between the club’s top officials to discuss Di Francesco’s future.

Club president Jim Pallotta later said: “On behalf of myself and everyone at AS Roma, I’d like to thank Eusebio for his work and his commitment.

“Since returning to the club, Eusebio has always acted professionally and put the club’s needs ahead of his own. We all wish him well for the future.”

Former Sassuolo boss Di Francesco took over in June 2017.

A former Roma midfielder, he had helped the team to their last Serie A title as a player in 2001.

The 49-year-old led Roma to the Champions League semi-finals last season for the first time since 1984, following an epic 3-0 comeback against Barcelona in the quarter-finals.

“Di Francesco will remain the coach who took Roma to the Champions League semi-finals after who knows how many years and he deserves credit for that,” said captain Daniele De Rossi.

“I know this isn’t our best season and the job of a coach will always be tied to results.”

The club finished third last season but this campaign has been marked by struggles with Di Francesco apologising to fans but refusing to resign after a humiliating 7-1 defeat to Fiorentina in the Coppa Italia quarter-finals last month.

Roma are now fifth in Serie A, three points off the Champions League berths for next season, after falling 3-0 last weekend to bitter city rivals Lazio.

 Ranieri ‘ready’ 

Ranieri, who memorably guided Leicester City to the 2016 Premier League title before being sacked the following season, coached Roma from September 2009 to February 2011.

The 67-year-old Italian’s brief spell as manager of Premier League strugglers Fulham ended last month after only four months in charge.

“Ranieri is ready,” wrote Gazzetta Dello Sport, adding that the former Roma boss was expected to travel to the Italian capital from London by Friday at the latest.

Other reported contenders are former Chelsea boss Antonio Conte and his Stamford Bridge successor Maurizio Sarri.

Ranieri has had a long coaching career in Italy with clubs including Juventus, Inter Milan and Napoli. He coached French club Nantes before taking over at Fulham in November 2018, only to be sacked on February 28.

During his time in charge of Roma, he oversaw 84 matches — winning 47, with 16 draws and 21 defeats.

Di Francesco has coached Roma for 87 games with 46 victories, 18 draws and 23 defeats.

The Champions League exit, however, was the final straw for American businessman Pallotta who had raged at VAR after the defeat.

The tie hinged on a decision by Turkish referee Cuneyt Cakir to point to the spot late in extra time upon reviewing an incident in which Alessandro Florenzi hauled back Porto forward Fernando.

Alex Telles converted the spot-kick, and Roma were then denied a penalty at the other end following a review after Patrik Schick tumbled to the ground.

“Last year we asked for VAR in the Champions League because we got screwed in the semi-final and tonight, they’ve got VAR and we still get robbed,” said Pallotta on Twitter.

“Patrik Schick was clearly clipped in the box, VAR shows it, and nothing is given. I’m tired of this crap. I give up.”

AFP

Autobiographical Drama ‘Roma’ Triumphs With Three Oscars

Alfonso Cuaron, the winner of Best Foreign Language Film, Best Director and Best Cinematography for “Roma,” poses in the press room during the 91st Annual Academy Awards at Hollywood and Highland on February 24, 2019, in Hollywood, California. Frazer Harrison/Getty Images/AFP

 

Alfonso Cuaron’s intimate family drama “Roma” triumphed at the Oscars on Sunday, winning for best foreign film, best director and best cinematography.

The win was also a major step forward for Netflix, which became the first streaming content provider to claim the best director prize from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, highlighting its increasing clout.

But it fell short at the finish, losing the top best picture prize to “Green Book.”

The semi-autobiographical black-and-white drama tells the story of an indigenous woman named Cleo — played by first-time actress Yalitza Aparicio — who works as a housekeeper and nanny for a middle-class family in Mexico City’s Roma district during the 1970s.

The film, shot in a mixture of Spanish and the indigenous Mixtec language, had earned a total of 10 Oscar nominations and is the crown jewel in Cuaron’s already illustrious award-winning career.

“This award belongs to Mexico,” Cuaron told reporters. “It’s a Mexican film on every single front.”

First indigenous woman nominated

For Cuaron, “Roma” was a deeply personal project that focused on the two women central to his life at the time: his mother Cristina, renamed Sofia in the film and played by Marina de Tavira, and the family’s live-in nanny, Libo, renamed Cleo and played by Aparicio.

The film follows Cleo as she cares for the family’s four children and manages the household while dealing with her own personal life.

Cuaron was so keen on faithfully recreating the atmosphere of the time that he managed to reclaim furniture from family for his set and was lucky enough to find a similar house in the Roma neighborhood that had been slated for demolition.

The 57-year-old director has said he has been overwhelmed by the widespread critical acclaim for the movie and was particularly proud “Roma” had spotlighted the lives of domestic workers.

“What is most significant is that this film, which has drawn huge media attention, has a main character who is a domestic employee and is indigenous,” the director told AFP earlier this month at a luncheon for the Oscars nominees in Beverly Hills.

“Yalitza is the first indigenous woman nominated for a best actress award in the history of the Oscars. And that, to me, is very important.”

Netflix has described the film as the director’s way of “delivering an artful love letter to the women who raised him.”

Smart gamble for Netflix

“Roma” marks a turning point for Netflix, which last month joined the Motion Picture Association of America, the first time a non-Hollywood studio has been granted entry to the powerful lobbying group.

The film was a bit of a gamble for the company, given that it was a foreign-language period film shot in black and white with an unknown lead actress. But the risk was a smart one, and turned into a reward.

“Roma” also had a limited release in theaters, showing in more than any other Netflix film to date, but in far fewer than its competitors — another risk.

But the company mounted an aggressive — and expensive — awards season marketing campaign, hosting events, renting billboards in Los Angeles and even reportedly sending major swag to journalists.

And in the end, “Roma” proved to be an awards darling, capturing major awards at the Golden Globes, the Critics’ Choice Awards and the Baftas, and the top prize from the Directors Guild of America.

It also won the Golden Lion at the Venice film festival.

For Cuaron himself, it is his second Oscar-winning film.

In 2014, his science fiction thriller “Gravity” pulled in seven Oscars including one for best director, which at the time made him the first Hispanic and Mexican filmmaker to win the award.

AFP

Roma Desperate To Avoid Nightmare Before Christmas At Juve

As Roma’s players pose ahead of the UEFA Champions League quarter-final second leg football match between AS Roma and FC Barcelona at the Olympic Stadium in Rome on April 10, 2018.
Filippo MONTEFORTE / AFP

 

Embattled Roma travel to Turin on Saturday desperate to bring some Christmas cheer back to their beleaguered fans in the capital by pulling off an upset against Cristiano Ronaldo’s Juventus.

Unbeaten Italian champions Juventus have had a record-breaking start to the season since their blockbuster signing of Ronaldo in the close-season for 100 million euros ($117 million).

The 33-year-old has started every one of Juventus’ 16 league games, scoring 11 goals, being substituted just once, in the final ten minutes against Fiorentina this month after he scored the third goal from the spot.

Massimiliano Allegri’s side have dropped just two points at home against Genoa, and are on course for an eighth consecutive Scudetto — eight points clear of second-placed Napoli, with Inter Milan a further six points adrift in third.

By contrast Roma, after finishing third last season, are in the doldrums after the departure of key players including goalkeeper Alisson and midfielders Radja Nainggolan and Kevin Strootman.

They are seventh, with just six wins, including last weekend’s 3-2 success over Genoa, but are 22 points behind Juventus.

A defeat on Saturday would see them slip 25 points behind before they host Sassuolo on December 26 and travel to promoted Parma to round off the year.

Juve travel to Atalanta and host Sampdoria in their final two matches before the three-week winter break.

“It’s always a war against Roma,” conceded Brazilian international defender Alex Sandro.

“We are prepared and know that they are prepared too, so I expect it to be a great game for players and fans.”

Juventus clinched their seventh straight league title last May with a 0-0 draw against Roma at the Stadio Olimpico.

Ronaldo will play his first match against Roma for Juventus but the former Manchester United and Real Madrid striker knows the club well.

He has faced them six times — winning five — including a memorable Champions League quarter-final return leg at Old Trafford in 2007.

United lost at the Stadio Olimpico 2-1, but thrashed Roma 7-1 at home.

“When it was 6-0, an opponent begged me to stop dribbling. Others threatened to hurt me,” recalled Ronaldo, who scored a double on the night, and has claimed five goals in five Champions League games against the Romans.

‘Under scrutiny’ 

Roma captain Daniele De Rossi pulled a goal back that night for his side in Manchester, but the 35-year-old is currently one of a number of key players out injured.

“Perhaps we can find some luck through our bad luck,” said De Rossi, whose side are nevertheless through to the Champions League knockout rounds.

“We are in a tough spell, we know that all of us, not just the coach, are under scrutiny.

“Then the pressure of facing Juventus is only something on top of that.

“So we all really want to put in a great performance in Turin, more for us than because it is a big, important game.”

Roma’s record in Turin is poor, however, having never won in seven previous trips to the Allianz Stadium.

Behind the champions, Napoli will be pushing to keep pace as they host SPAL, who are four points clear of the relegation zone, before a tricky trip to Inter Milan on Wednesday.

Inter also have a chance to close the gap against bottom club Chievo before locking horns with Carlo Ancelotti’s southerners.

Fourth-placed AC Milan host Fiorentina after being held to a goalless draw against Bologna this week, to drop five points behind their city rivals.

Lazio, in fifth, host Cagliari after losing to Atalanta last time out, to stretch their winless run to five league games.

Fixtures

Saturday (all times GMT)

Lazio v Cagliari (1130 GMT), Napoli v SPAL, Empoli v Sampdoria, Sassuolo v Torino, Genoa v Atalanta, AC Milan v Fiorentina, Udinese v Frosinone (all 1400GMT), Chievo v Inter Milan, Parma v Bologna (both (1700), Juventus v Roma (1930).

AFP

Cska Moscow Defeat Puts Real Madrid, Roma In Champions League Last 16

Solari - Five Things About Real Madrid's New Coach

 

Real Madrid and Roma qualified for the Champions League knockout stages on Tuesday after Group G rivals CSKA Moscow fell to a 2-1 defeat at home to Viktoria Plzen.

Viktor Goncharenko’s team needed to win at the Luzhniki stadium to have any hope of reaching the last 16 but second-half goals from Roman Prochazka and Lukas Hejda left the Russians bottom of the group, level with Plzen on four points.

They are both five points behind European champions Real and Serie A club Roma, who were facing off at the Stadio Olimpico later on Tuesday, with a match left to play.

CSKA got off to a fast start, with Nikola Vlasic slotting home a 10th-minute penalty.

Plzen thought they were set to equalise two minutes before half-time when Georgy Schennikov brought down Radim Rezník in the box, only for CSKA keeper Igor Akinfeev to easily pat aside Prochazka’s tame penalty.

However, midfielder Prochazka redeemed himself five minutes after the break with a superb finish, arriving off-balance to curl a neat pull-back into the top corner and stun the home crowd.

The Russians laid seige to the Plzen goal as the second half wore on but it was the away side who struck the decisive blow with 10 minutes remaining.

Hejda met Patrik Hrosovsky’s fiercely delivered cross to snatch a dramatic win that keeps the Czechs’ hopes of Europa League football alive.

Roma Close In On Last 16 With Win Over CSKA Moscow

AS Roma Italian midfielder Lorenzo Pellegrini and CSKA Moscow’s Slovenian midfielder Jaka Bijol vie for the ball during the UEFA Champions League group G football match between PFC CSKA Moscow and AS Roma at the Luzhniki stadium in Moscow on November 7, 2018.
Yuri KADOBNOV / AFP

 

Roma inched closer to a place in the knockout stages of the Champions League on Wednesday thanks to a hard-fought 2-1 win over 10-man CSKA Moscow in the Luzhniki Stadium.

An early Kostas Manolas header and Lorenzo Pellegrini’s neat finish just before the hour mark gave Roma a win that puts them three points clear of second-placed Real Madrid at the top of Group G ahead of the European champions’ clash with Viktoria Plzen later on Wednesday.

Iceland midfielder Arnor Sigurdsson had levelled for CSKA, but Hordur Magnusson’s 56th-minute sending off following a rash challenge on lively Roma winger Justin Kluivert allowed the wasteful away side to regroup and eventually take all three points.

“Of course Magnusson’s sending off helped us a lot but it was the result of the pressure that we put on CSKA,” said Roma manager Eusebio Di Francesco.

“I want my men to play more confidently as today we should have scored the third goal to avoid a nervous ending.”

Manolas got Roma off to a flying start when he glanced Pellegrini’s fourth-minute corner past CSKA goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev.

CSKA poured forward trying to pull level but the visitors’ defence stifled the home team and left them trying fruitless long-range shots.

The hosts had a rare chance to score in the 26th minute when Slovenian midfielder Jaka Bijol met Nikola Vlasic’s corner but could only direct his header straight at Roma ‘keeper Robin Olsen.

Five minutes later Roma replied with a powerful free-kick by Aleksandar Kolarov, which forced Akinfeev to push the ball to Edin Dzeko, whose attempt on the rebound flashed over the crossbar.

However CSKA came out all guns blazing in the second half and Sigurdsson levelled five minutes after the break, expertly taking a fizzing Ilzat Akhmetov pass under pressure in the area and stroking the ball past Olsen’s outstretched hands.

The hosts had their tails up but were soon on the back foot again when Magnusson chopped down Kluivert as the Dutch youngster scampered down the field, leaving his team a man down with just 11 minutes of the second period played.

Pellegrini made them pay just three minutes later when he slipped an offside trap and poked past Akinfeev to help Roma to record three consecutive Champions League wins for the first time since the 2008-09 campaign.

Roma are now five points ahead of third-placed CSKA — who are staring elimination in the face with two games remaining — and can seal qualification against Real Madrid at the Stadio Olimpico later this month.

“Many factors were against us today, Roma’s early goal, Mario Fernandes’ injury and Magnusson’s sending off,” said CSKA coach Viktor Gancharenko.

“I enjoyed Roma’s performance as they showed that they knew exactly what they needed to do to get the needed result. Hopefully, my men will learn the lesson.”

AFP