Destro, Bastos shine as Roma blanks Sassuolo: Serie A
4th consecutive win for Roma
Mattia Destro's early goal was key and Roma was fortunate when a penalty kick for relegation-threatened Sassuolo was waved off in a 2-0 win Sunday in Serie A.
Roma's fourth consecutive victory strengthened the Giallorossi's hold on second place ahead of Italian league leader Juventus' match at Napoli later. With a game in hand, Roma moved within 11 points of Juventus and nine points ahead of Napoli in the race for second and the last direct Champions League entry.
"I want Napoli to win tonight. The gap behind Juve is large but if they lose it will be less," Roma coach Rudi Garcia said. "Until we are mathematically eliminated from the title race we have to look ahead."
Roma faces Parma on Wednesday in the resumption of a match from February that was stopped after eight minutes due to a waterlogged pitch.
"No other squads will be playing," Garcia said. "We've got to take advantage of that."
Elsewhere Sunday, fourth-place Fiorentina was held to a 0-0 draw at Sampdoria.
Fiorentina winger Juan Vargas banged a free kick off the corner of the goal frame in the 78th and Sampdoria coach Sinisa Mihajlovic was sent off for protesting in the final minutes, grabbing an official's arm as he walked off the pitch.
Parma remained one point behind Inter Milan in the race for fifth and the final Europa League berth after a 3-2 loss at Lazio.
Antonio Candreva scored the winner for Lazio in added time of a match marked by poor defending on both sides.
After Lazio's Senad Lulic and Parma's Jonathan Biabiany traded goals in the first half, Miroslav Klose restored Lazio's lead in the 67th and then Lazio goalkeeper Federico Marchetti let the ball trickle in between his legs in the 81st for an own goal.
Luca Toni scored twice after Marco Donadel's opener in Hellas Verona's 3-0 win over Genoa and Alessio Cerci set up one goal for Omar El Kaddouri and scored another in Torino's 2-1 win over Cagliari.
In Reggio Emilia, Destro had an easy time finding the target from the centre of the area in the 16th after getting set up by Belgium midfielder Radja Nainggolan, who stripped the ball from a defender just outside the area.
Competing for a spot on Italy's World Cup squad, it was the fourth consecutive match in which Destro scored, and it was his 10th goal since beginning his injury-delayed season in December.
Sassuolo thought it had a chance to equalize in the 35th when referee Nicola Rizzoli — Italy's World Cup representative — appeared to change his mind several times before denying the hosts a penalty for minor contact between Roma defender Mehdi Benatia and Nicola Sansone.
Roma substitute Michel Bastos sealed the result with a goal six minutes into added time after getting set up by Roma's 37-year-old captain Francesco Totti, who replaced Destro in the 79th.
Playing its first season in the top division, Sassuolo remained one point above last-place Catania, which visits Udinese on Monday.