A late strike by Gervinho sent AS Roma into the Coppa Italia semi-finals with a 1-0 win over Serie A title rivals Juventus in a tense atmosphere at a packed Stadio Olimpico on Tuesday.
The Ivory Coast forward, who has been widely criticized for poor finishing, met Kevin Strootman’s cross with an acrobatic finish 11 minutes from time to win the tie.
The victory gives Rudi Garcia’s side a measure of revenge for their 3-0 drubbing at the hands of Juve in Serie A earlier this month, but Roma still trail the champions by eight points.
“It was a win that we wanted at all costs,” Roma captain Francesco Totti said. “We had to get our own back for the horrible defeat we suffered in Turin. Today we showed ourselves to be at the same level as a very good Juve side.”
“It was a very even match between two very strong sides. It’s upsetting having conceded the goal in our best moment of the match,” Juve coach Antonio Conte added.
In the two-legged semi-finals, the Giallorossi will face one of their deadly rivals: SSC Napoli or SS Lazio, who meet at the Stadio San Paolo in Naples on Wednesday next week.
The win means that Roma remain on track for a 10th Coppa triumph and gives them a psychological boost in the title race, although Juve started without key players, including midfielder Paul Pogba, as well as forwards Fernando Llorente and Carlos Tevez.
“For me there isn’t a big gap between us, even if it’s the league table that counts. Eight points is a lot, we’re having a brilliant season, but they’re doing even better,” Totti added. “If we carry on the way we played in the first half of the season, we’ll be close to Juve, but if they stay at the same level, it will be difficult.”
Juventus used the same tactics that saw them win the league clash, defending deep and allowing Roma to dominate possession.
However, this time they were not allowed to cause any damage on the break, with their only real scoring chance coming when Federico Peluso’s header a minute after the break was disallowed after the linesman ruled that the cross had gone out of play.
“Peluso’s goal should have stood. For Isla’s cross the ball was in and not only just either,” Conte said afterward.
After Gervinho sent the home fans wild with his karate-kick winner, the visitors could not break down a brilliantly drilled Roma side who have four games in a row in the league and Coppa since losing at the Juventus Stadium straight after the winter break.
In the other quarter-finals, AC Milan were looking to continue their winning start under the stewardship of former player Clarence Seedorf against Udinese yesterday, while AS Siena are to travel to ACF Fiorentina for a Tuscan derby today.