Hellas Verona vs AS Roma, final score 1-3: Roma get themselves back into title contention

Paolo Bruno

AS Roma defeated Hellas Verona 3-1 to record a third straight Serie A victory and narrow the gap between them and league leaders Juventus.

It's been a good week for Rudi Garcia and Roma. After dumping Juventus out of the Coppa Italia in midweek, the Giallorossi took full advantage of Juve's 1-1 draw with city neighbours Lazio on Saturday night and now trail the Bianconeri by just six points. In stark contrast to Roma's purple patch, Verona have now lost their last three games.

Gervinho set one goal up for Adem Ljajic, then netted the other with a piece of individual skill after Emil Hallfredsson had drawn Hellas level. A late penalty from Francesco Totti settled the game.

Verona welcomed Luca Toni back into the fold after the veteran striker missed the loss to AC Milan with flu. Defender Evangelos Moras was out injured. Roma's Federico Balzaretti had surgery to repair a hernia in midweek and is out for two months.

The visitors assumed control of the first half. Douglas Maicon saw a deflected cross almost deceive Rafael inside the first two minutes. Mattia Destro slipped as he hit a weak shot on the turn, while Hallfredsson's poor clearance fell to Ljajic, who sliced a half volley high and wide.

On 34 minutes, Gervinho slid the ball across for Destro to stab over from six yards. Verona suffered a blow when they lost their captain Domenico Maietta to injury six minutes before half time. The defender tore a thigh muscle making a routine clearance and had to be stretchered off.

Roma opened the scoring in first half stoppage time. Gervinho ran down the left hand side and picked out an unmarked Ljajic, who was on hand to turn in his shot with the outside of his foot from six yards.

Verona hit back four minutes after the restart. Juan Manuel Iturbe's persistence took him past Leandro Castan to create an opening. Massimo Donati laid the ball off for Hallfredsson to drill a grasscutter in from 18 yards. The effort caught Morgan De Sanctis by surprise as the ball whistled into the bottom corner.

Roma went back on the offensive. Rafael palmed clear a Maicon drive and Ljajic flashed an effort wide. A scramble in the Verona box saw the ball ping pong around before being turned wide by Vassilis Torosidis.

The Giallorossi restored their lead on the hour. Gervinho expertly controlled a cross and took the ball past three defenders, carving out enough space to fire a low shot past Rafael.

Hallfredsson tried to replicate his earlier feat, but this time De Sanctis was equal to the effort and pushed the ball away.

Romulo was walking a disciplinary tightrope and risked a red card for a foul on Alessandro Florenzi. However, the referee spared the Verona midfielder a second yellow card. After Castan wasted a free header from a Totti free kick, the referee did hand Verona a tough decision.

Eight minutes from time, Roma were awarded a questionable penalty. Alejandro Gonzalez looked to have got the ball from Torosidis, but the Roma man went down and got the decision. An irate Gonzalez was booked for protesting and Totti converted the spot kick, putting the ball beyond the diving Rafael in the bottom corner. Gonzalez capped an unlucky week, as he was the man to concede the penalty in the loss to AC Milan last weekend.

In stoppage time, De Sanctis flung his arms out to deny Rafael Marques. Roma quickly broke clear and Totti's floated cross clipped the crossbar and away from Gervinho, who was denied a chance to nod in on the line.

Hellas Verona: Rafael; Gonzalez, Marques, Maietta, (Donadel 39) Cacciatore; Romulo, Donati, (Longo 83) Hallfredsson; Iturbe, Toni, Gomez Taleb (Martinho 68)

AS Roma: De Sanctis; Maicon, Benatia, Castan, Torosidis; Nainggolan, (Pjanic 60) De Rossi, Strootman; Gervinho, Destro, (Totti 76) Ljajic (Florenzi 64)

Goals: Ljajic 45 (R) Hallfredsson 49 (V) Gervinho 60 (R) Totti pen 82 (R)

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