Roma young guns Destro, Pjanic beat Sampdoria to reduce Juventus gap
By Justin Davis ,AFP
February 18, 2014, 12:19 am TWN
MILAN -- Young guns Mattia Destro, with a brace, and Miralem Pjanic were on target for Roma in a 3-0 romp over Sampdoria which kept the Serie A title battle with Juventus ticking over on Sunday.
Champions Juventus had accounted for spirited Chievo 3-1 earlier in Turin to take their lead over second-placed Roma to 12 points.
However Rudi Garcia's side, who have a game in hand, further underlined their scudetto credentials with a dominant display at the Olympic Stadium which simultaneously highlighted the talents of his young crop of stars.
Roma's hopes of making amends for their Italian Cup final defeat to Lazio last year were ended by a 3-0 second leg, semi-final defeat to Napoli in midweek.
Garcia said that reverse had provided some extra motivation.
"I think after our Cup exit there was a lack of respect for my side, from everyone, and tonight we've given our response to that," Garcia told Sky Sport Italia.
"We've gone out, scored three goals and conceded none. We're nine points behind Juve with a game in hand, and I think we've shown how strong we are."
Captain Francesco Totti was ruled out through injury but the club veteran, present in the stands, was on hand to watch the Giallorossi take command from the outset.
Destro, 22, eventually headed the hosts into a 44th minute lead from a corner, but in a lively opening half the 22-year-old was among several Roma players to narrowly miss the target as Sampdoria's defense was overrun.
A deft flick from Gervinho was cleared off the line by Daniele Gastaldello on 26 minutes and further chances were missed by Pjanic, Destro, Maicon and Kevin Strootman, who drilled straight at Angelo Da Costa on 40 minutes.
The hosts had a penalty claim waved away when Shkodran Mustafi handled in the area, but from the resulting corner Destro stepped away from his marker in timely fashion to send a powerful header past Da Costa and into the top corner.