Roger Ibanez’s header made sure of the three points for Roma against Spezia
Roma put an end to their worrying recent run of form in Serie A by beating Spezia 2-0 on Monday and gaining ground in the race for European football.
Goals in each half from Chris Smalling and Roger Ibanez put Jose Mourinho’s side back on track following defeat at Bologna and a home hammering at the hands of champions Inter Milan last weekend.
They are up to sixth on 28 points, two points behind Fiorentina who hold the Europa League qualification spot and level with Juventus, in seventh after drawing at Venezia on Saturday.
However they are some way from their true objective of Champions League football, as they sit eight points behind fourth-placed Napoli.
An 11th defeat for Spezia leaves Thiago Motta’s team just two points and one place above the relegation zone, despite a spirited display which probably deserved at least a goal.
Smalling put Roma ahead with his first league goal of the season in the sixth minute when, completely unmarked at a corner, he casually met countryman Tammy Abraham’s headed effort from a corner with a header of his own that Ivan Provedel had no chance of saving.
Abraham was also involved when the hosts were unlucky to not double their lead in the 25th minute, the England international cleverly flicking a pass to Matias Vina who then watched his goal-bound effort well tipped away by Provedel.
And after Rui Patricio stopped Arkadiusz Reca from drawing the away side level Abraham was denied his fifth league goal of the season by the bar in first-half stoppage time.
The former Chelsea striker met Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s fizzing cross with his chest and hit the woodwork for the seventh time this season before Jordan Veretout’s rebound drive was kept out by a combination of Provedel and Martin Erlic.
However Roma did have their second 10 minutes after the break, following a brief burst of Spezia dominance, when Ibanez met Veretout’s corner with a thumping header amid more sloppy set-piece defending from Spezia.
Roma were more or less assured of the points by VAR shortly afterwards, with Rey Manaj’s clearly offside goal ruled out after the on-field officials had initially allowed the Albanian’s close-range strike to stand.
There was time for one more incident though, as talented teen Felix Afena-Gyan rattled home what he thought was Roma’s third after obviously handling in the build up and received a second booking while still celebrating with the crowd.