Roma within touching distance of automatic Champions League qualification after beating Chievo

Il Tempo (Alessandro Austini) While it wasn’t a convincing performance, Roma returned from Verona with a smile on their faces and with second place still in their grasp after securing a victory that could be worth millions of Euros to them. Napoli’s win against Fiorentina later that evening ensured that the Giallorossi’s fight for automatic qualification to the Champions League would go down to the final day against Genoa, 28th May, which will mark the end of Totti’s playing career.

chievo-roma-el-shaarawy-paredes-fazio-gol-esultanza

But the hard part now seems to be over. This afternoon Juventus will have to beat Crotone if they want to put the scudetto to bed once and for all: Allegri went to sleep last night with Spalletti just 1 point behind him. The first half at the Bentegodi was something of a nightmare, but there was an impassioned reaction in the second half: 4 ‘Egyptian’ goals as well as an unforgettable strike from Dzeko, Szczesny – left horribly exposed by his sleeping defenders – picked the ball out of his net 3 times, and a last hurrah for the captain’s final away game. Yesterday’s game was full of incident and moments to remember, as often happens at the end of the season when there is less tension.

Chievo certainly didn’t make things easy for Roma, in fact, but in the end – after 45 minutes when it looked like they might throw away all the good work they had done against Milan and Juventus – the desire of De Rossi & Co. prevailed. Without Nainggolan, who Spalletti held back for over an hour, they were missing his spark in the final third, while Manolas, Fazio and Rudiger really struggled with the Veronesi side’s pace. Sorrentino made a fine save from Salah’s first effort, and Maran’s side then scored through Castro with their first foray forward into the Roma penalty area. Roma did well to quickly find an equaliser through El Shaarawy, his third goal in his last 3 games. But Spalletti’s team never like doing things the easy way, and instead of pushing on they allowed Chievo to begin attacking again. The Giallorossi’s defending for Inglese’s goal was embarrassing: they were slow in closing down and their positioning and marking was completely wrong. Salah stepped up to send Roma in level at half time and allow them to complete the turnaround in the second half.

El Shaarawy started the celebrations, which were finished off by the ‘original’ Egyptian and Dzeko. The Bosnian forward has now scored 28 goals in the league – no one has ever scored so many in Roma’s history. With 38 goals in all competitions, the prize of capocannoniere is close. While Totti came on for a final ovation, Inglese beat Szczesny for a third time (from an offside position).

But it was immaterial at that point, Roma had shrugged off any remaining tension to seal their 27th win of the league season and their 7th away win in a row: a club record. To beat their points record (85 under Garcia), they will need to beat Genoa in the final game. Another statistic: it was the first time the Giallorossi scored 5 goals away from the Olimpico in 22 years, the last time came at Cremonese (1-5) in 1995. These statistics would normally be enough to win the title, but a stratospheric Juventus side continue to stand in their way. Now comes the final push before all the off-field matters are cleared up, starting with Spalletti, and preparing for next season with more certainty. It will be up to the new sporting director Monchi to find what Roma are missing to compete with the Bianconeri. Ultimately though, they aren’t missing much at all.

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