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Szczesny heroic as Roma snatch Sampdoria win

08 February 2016, 17:32

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 win.

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 early on.

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 post.

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.

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