Mon, Jan 28, 2008 - Page 18 News List

Workmanlike Roma earn victory against Palermo

AFP , ROME

Francesco Totti of Roma shakes hands with young fans prior the Italian Serie A soccer match against Palermo in Rome on Saturday.

PHOTO: EPA

AS Roma kept up their chase of runaway Serie A leaders Inter Milan with a hard-fought 1-0 win over Palermo on Saturday.

The victory against the Sicilians at Rome's Stadio Olimpico was enough to cut Inter's lead at the top of the table to four points, for 24 hours at least, ahead of the champions' trip to Udinese yesterday.

But this performance was nothing more than workmanlike from an uninspired Roma side that will need to play much better in the coming weeks if they are to keep the pressure on the champions.

Roma captain Francesco Totti was honored before the match with a golden ball trophy to commemorate his 200 goals for the club, although he failed to add to those on the evening.

Roma had most of the ball but struggled to break down their organized opponents, although they were given a helping hand in the second half when Leandro Rinaudo was harshly given a straight red card for a rash tackle.

Just two minutes later, Roma were in front when winger Alessandro Mancini rose above goalkeeper Alberto Fontana to head home a corner from Rodrigo Taddei.

Roma almost doubled their advantage late on in stoppage time but French center-back Philippe Mexes thudded the post with a bullet header from Brazilian substitute Cicinho's right-wing cross.

Former Roma forward Antonio Cassano was the match-winner as Sampdoria continued their push for European qualification with a 1-0 home win over Siena.

Sampdoria are up to sixth -- and a UEFA Cup qualification position -- after the victory.

Cassano had earlier hit the bar with a rasping long-range effort that beat the goalkeeper before he pounced on a defensive mistake to curl home the winner from 15m a minute before the break.

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