Milan - On-loan Arsenal goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny
produced late heroics as Roma held on to snatch a 2-1 win at home to Sampdoria
on Sunday and maintain their bid for a place in Europe next season.
"I'm glad to have helped the team, but I would have
preferred to make fewer saves," the Polish 'keeper told Mediaset Premium.
Edin Dzeko started on the bench and Radja Nainggolan was
suspended for the visit of Sampdoria, whose coach Vincenzo Montella was once a
hugely popular striker with the club.
But with Sampdoria still struggling to kickstart their
season following Montella's recent arrival, the hosts were rarely troubled in a
one-sided opening period that saw Alessandro Florenzi's header break the
deadlock on the stroke of half-time.
Diego Perotti doubled the lead with a superb volley minutes
after the restart to claim his maiden Roma goal, but when Joaquin Correa's
deflected shot trickled past Szczesny soon after, Roma's confidence dropped.
Sampdoria came fighting back in a thrilling last quarter
hour that saw Szczesny make several crucial saves while the crossbar kept out a
late Mattia Cassani chance out as Roma held on to claim their third consecutive
Roma remain in fifth at 12 points behind leaders Napoli, but
after Fiorentina and Inter Milan drew with Bologna and Verona respectively,
Spalletti's men are one point behind Inter and two behind Fiorentina in third.
"We should have settled things much earlier in the
match, but we held on for our third consecitive win and we've moved even closer
to our rival for the Champions League, so we have to be happy," Spalletti
told Sky Sport.
Also read: Roma goalkeeper Szczesny out for up to 6 weeks with injury
Sampdoria have now won just two of their 12 games under
Montella, and conceded five defeats and a draw in their last six outings.
But Montella remained defiant: "We definitely played
better in the second half and I think in the end we deserved the win.
"I want to remain positive but my smile is bittersweet.
I'm sorry for the fans and the players but I think if we look at our last three
games we can say we didn't deserve just a point.
"I can see the light at the end of the tunnel."
Roma spurned several chances to race to a healthy first-half
lead, Bosnian midfielder Miralem Pjanic notably nodding wide of the target
despite having time on his side when Florenzi fired over an inviting cross
Stephan El Shaarawy somehow ballooned over from 12 yards on
Mohamed Salah's cut-back but just as form dipped towards half-time, Florenzi
pounced to head the deflection from an El Shaarawy's drive inside Viviano's far
Minutes after the restart, El Shaarawy flicked a loose ball
up for Perotti on the edge of the area and the former Genoa midfielder promptly
fired a volley past Viviano and into the bottom left-hand corner.
Pjanic then escaped down the right to skim the upright with
the outside of his boot, but just as Roma looked to have gained command, Correa's
shot deflected off Pjanic to wrong-foot Szczesny at his near post.
Dzeko replaced Maicon halfway through the second period and
after losing control on the edge of the area turned to see unmarked El Shaarawy
pounce and fire the loose ball just wide.
Veteran Antonio Cassano replaced Correa for the final 10
minutes and spurned a great chance to level when Szczesny raced out to block,
the Polish 'keeper then getting low on Cassano's deflection from a Dodo drive.
A Dodo cross in the dying seconds saw Cassani contort his
body to fire a volley that beat Szczesny, only to rattle the crossbar.For
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