The newly-capped Italy forward struck after only three minutes to claim the win for the Giallorossi and maintain their push for the European places.Roma's outside hopes of a Europa League qualification berth gained a boost on Saturday with a 1-0 win over Palermo at the Stadio Renzo Barbera.
Fabio Borini scored the only goal of the contest inside three minutes to send the capital outfit on its way to all three points, which vaults the team over Inter into sixth place in the Serie A standings.
Luis Enrique’s men got off to the perfect start, taking the lead after barely three minutes of play. Erik Lamela gained possession at the edge of the box after poor play by Ezequiel Munoz, before slipping in Borini, who finished coolly into the corner.
Palermo was shell shocked, and was kept under pressure by a spirited Roma outfit that continued to look menacing in the attacking third as the first half progressed.
Lamela threatened again as he broke towards goal, turning Munoz inside out before seeing his low shot parried at the near post by Emiliano Viviano.
The home side spent most of the first half on the back foot, but was able to cause problems intermittently on the break thanks to some unconvincing moments by Bogdan Lobont, who nervously elected to palm a pair of crosses from Federico Balzaretti and Fabrizio Miccoli over the bar.
Lobont proved a more assured presence just before halftime as Andrea Mantovani’s powerful drive forced him to tip over, before Eran Zahavi sent a low drive straight into the Romanian keeper’s arms.
Lamela went close after the restart, weaving into the box past multiple Palermo players only to fire into the side netting. The home side immediately stormed back down the pitch through Josip Ilicic, who charged forward to unleash an effort from 22 yards out that Lobont could only smother on the second grasp.
The match began to assume a more even complexion as the Rosanero began to come out of their shell, but they almost fell further behind after Borini blasted into the side netting having skipped brilliantly past two defenders.
With 20 minutes to go, Lobont again displayed questionable handling as he dropped a seemingly routine cross, only to thwart the onrushing Miccoli from the rebound with a smart recovery save.
Palermo was in the ascendancy as the match neared its conclusion, with Lobont producing a fantastic save to deny Munoz from a corner with five minutes to go.
In stoppage time, an almighty goalmouth scramble following a corner saw the home team come within inches of poking the ball home, but luck was not on its side as Luis Enrique’s men held on for victory.
The result sees Roma leapfrog Inter by a point into sixth place, five points off Udinese in the final Europa League qualifying spot, having played one game extra. Defeat for Palermo almost certainly draws to an end its hopes of European football next season.
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