STADIO OLIMPICO (Rome:): A Paulo Dybala double earned AS Roma a 2-0 win over 10-man Fiorentina on Sunday night to keep Jose Mourinho’s side in the Champions League hunt.
La Viola were left with a daunting task when right-back Dodo was sent off after just 24 minutes for a reckless challenge that earned him a second yellow card.
Abraham provides for Dybala
Roma made the extra man count when Dybala latched onto a Tammy Abraham knock-down to thump home a spectacular volley before half-time, and the pair linked up again late on when Dybala fired home his second from an inviting Abraham cross.
The result leaves Roma seventh, but level on points with Lazio and Atalanta above them and just three behind Juventus and Inter.
Nicolo Zaniolo was booed off by his own fans during a midweek Coppa Italia win over Genoa after another underwhelming display, but the next episode in that drama was postponed as the Italy international missed out with a virus.
Young Edoardo Bove was drafted into midfield and Marash Kumbulla was handed a rare start in defence in the absence of the suspended Roger Ibanez, while Luka Jovic led the line for Fiorentina with Arthur Cabral out.
Dodo changes the game
After a balanced opening to the game, Dodo left his side with a mountain to climb when he lunged into a badly-timed challenge on Nicola Zalewski that left the Poland international squirming in pain and resulted in a second yellow that was hard to argue with.
Roma didn’t need long to take advantage, as a moment of Dybala magic made the breakthrough in the 40th minute.
Lorenzo Pellegrini clipped a ball forward to Abraham, who intelligently laid it off to Dybala with his chest and the Argentina star fired home a first-time volley with the aid of a minor deflection.
Vincenzo Italiano introduced Antonin Barak and Nico Gonzalez for the second half and the visitors played with confidence despite their numerical disadvantage, but their inability to threaten Rui Patricio’s goal was eventually punished.
With six minutes to go, Abraham hared after a ball down the right wing and played a perfectly-weighted low cross into the path of Dybala for an easy finish.
Christian Kouame had a chance to pull back a consolation in stoppage-time, but Patricio reacted well to save his effort.
The Olimpico crowd was given one last reason to cheer, as January signing Ola Solbakken stepped off the bench for the final few minutes to make his Roma debut.