Roma thrash Novara to boost Champions League hopes
Roma romped to a 5-2 win over Novara on Sunday to keep alive their hopes of qualifying for next season’s Champions League.
They trail city rivals Lazio, who lost 3-1 at Parma on Saturday, by just four points in the race for third place and the final berth in Europe’s premier club competition.
Novara took the lead early on through Andrea Caracciolo but after that there was only ever going to be one winner.
Brazilian Marquinho and Pablo Osvaldo hit back before half time while another Brazilian Simplicio and Bojan Krkic struck in the second period.
Japan forward Takayuki Morimoto scored a late consolation for the struggling visitors, who remain second bottom and nine points from safety, before Erik Lamela put the icing on the cake deep into injury time.
Roma stayed sixth with Napoli and Udinese between them and Lazio but as well as homing in on a top three finish, they also increased the gap to the teams behind chasing the final Europa League spot, which they currently occupy.
Things started badly at the Stadio Olimpico in the capital, though, as Caracciolo got across makeshift centre-back Daniele De Rossi to send a diving header beyond goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg and in off the post on 17 minutes.
The lead didn’t last long before Marquinho rose to head home Osvaldo’s left-footed cross from the right.
Argentine-born Italy international Osvaldo completed a hat-trick of first-half headed goals when he rose to meet Francesco Totti’s corner, although goalkeeper Samir Ujkani probably should have done better as he seemed to have the time to get across his goal to reach the bouncing ball.
It could have been even better for Roma before the break but Osvaldo hit the bar with another header.
Novara had a couple of early chances after the restart but the game was over by the hour mark.
Simplicio jinked through the defence and fed Marquinho whose shot was saved by Ujkani only for a defender to fluff his clearance and Simplicio’s snap shot took a wicked deflection before looping over the goalkeeper.
Marquinho then released Bojan down the left and he scampered away from the defence before slipping the ball past Ujkani.
Morimoto kept Roma on their toes with a late consolation as he snuck the ball under Stekelenburg after Caracciolo slipped him in behind the defence.
But Lamela curled home from just inside the box in stoppage time after being fed by Osvaldo.
On Saturday leaders AC Milan were held to a 1-1 draw at Catania giving them a five point lead over Juventus.
However, the Old Lady of Turin could reduce the gap to two points if they beat Napoli on Sunday night.
Brazilian Robinho had opened the scoring for the champions but Nicolas Spolli snatched a point for the Sicilians.