Nainggolan's maiden goal secures Roma's 1-0 victory over Bologna
AFP Monday, February 24, 2014, 12:00 am TWN
ROME -- Belgian international Radja Nainggolan hit his maiden goal for Roma in a 1-0 win at Bologna which reduced the gap on Serie A leaders to six points on Saturday.
Roma's 17th win kept them in second but with a game in hand Rudi Garcia's title challengers will be looking for Torino to cause an upset in the derby away to leaders Juventus on Sunday.
Bologna had won only once in their last seven games and welcomed Roma to the Dell'Ara stadium as the underdogs having beaten the Giallorossi only twice in the sides' last 12 games.
Garcia was missing Francesco Totti, Douglas Maicon, Federico Balzaretti and Dodo meaning a rare start for Rodrigo Taddei and youngster Alessio Romagnoli at the back while Dutch midfielder Kevin Strootman started on the bench.
After only seven minutes Bologna spurned the chance for the opener when a Rolando Bianchi lob caught Morgan De Sanctis off his line and forced the 'keeper to scramble back to save.
But despite some early wake-up calls Roma settled into their stride and on-form Mattia Destro was only denied by the inside of Gianluca Curci's post on 18 minutes with the ball rolling along the goalline.
Nainggolan fired over after being set up by Romagnoli but the midfielder made amends by tapping home from close range from Pjanic's pacy cross after Gervinho had set the Bosnian up down the left on 37 minutes.
A Destro lob looked to have given Roma their second just after the restart but it was ruled offside.
Roma went on to dominate but Bologna refused to buckle and on 75 minutes Rene Krhin saw a free header go over the bar, while Andrea Mantovani saw his finish go a meter past De Sanctis's upright.
At the other end Taddei's angled first-time strike was well blocked by Curci after Adem Ljajic had set up the veteran defender following Michel Bastos's precision pass from the left flank.
Roma, however, had to endure a few late scares before securing the points.
Mehdi Benatia headed a cross into the path of Ibson five minutes from time, prompting De Sanctis to react quickly and block.
Bastos spurned a great chance at the death when he ran on to Gervinho's generous ball on the right only to fire an angled first-time striker well over.
But Bologna were left holding their heads in their hands when Lazaros Christodoulopoulos sent a superb diving header just wide after Davide Moscardelli's smart delivery from deep on the right.
MOST POPULAR OF THIS SECTION