Mon, Mar 24, 2014 - Page 18 News List

Roma keep Champions League hopes alive

AFP, ROME

AC Chevio Verona goalkeeper Michael Agazzi, left, dives for the ball in front of AS Roma forward Gervinho during their game at Stadio Marcantonio Bentegodi in Verona, Italy, on Saturday.

Photo: AFP

Gervinho and Mattia Destro scored in the first half to give AS Roma a 2-0 win against struggling AC Chievo Verona and keep their push for an automatic Champions League spot on track in the Serie A on Saturday.

Roma opened up a six-point lead on third-placed SSC Napoli, who were to host ACF Fiorentina yesterday, but are 11 points behind leaders Juventus who were to travel to Catania in Sicily.

Roma’s hopes of ending their 13-year wait for the scudetto have taken a knock recently. And with Juve closing in on a third consecutive title, Roma are also under pressure from Napoli in the fight to secure the runners-up spot and an automatic Champions League qualifying place.

However, it was a confident display for the side from the capital that delighted coach Rudi Garcia in Verona’s Stadio Marcantonio Bentegodi.

Gervinho opened after 17 minutes when he picked up Bostjan Cesar’s pass and Destro added a second three minutes before the break.

“We had a great first half,” Garcia told Sky Sport Italia. “The credit goes to the whole team. I have players with character. They always want to win and they give their all on the pitch.”

Ivorian Gervinho would have scored a second only for a last-gasp save from goalkeeper Michael Agazzi on the line two minutes from time.

Earlier, Torino striker Ciro Immobile netted a hat-trick to put himself top of the Serie A goalscorer standings with 16 goals in a 3-1 win against struggling AS Livorno.

The Italian striker overtook Juventus’ Argentinian striker Carlos Tevez, to end a series of four straight defeats by his side, who move up to ninth.

“It was emotional,” Immobile, 24, told Sky after the match, adding that he hoped it would help him win a place in Italy’s World Cup squad.

“[Italy coach Cesare] Prandelli knows me, he knows how hard I work. If he decides to call me up I will be ready to give my all, just like I do here,” the striker said.

He headed the hosts ahead after 25 minutes off a free-kick, as the visiting Tuscans found it hard to contain their northern rivals. His second came on the hour mark and seven minutes later had got a third past Francesco Bardi in the Livorno goal.

Livorno grabbed a late consolation goal from substitute Luca Siligardi to sit just one point above the relegation zone.

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