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Soccer: Hungry Roma determined to keep up Juve chase

Rome side end run of draws, Destro boost for attack

09 December, 16:55
Soccer: Hungry Roma determined to keep up Juve chase (By Paul Virgo) (ANSA) - Rome, December 9 - AS Roma coach Rudi Garcia said his men have no intention of rolling over to let Juventus run away with the title race after ending a run of four consecutive draws with Sunday's 2-1 home victory over Fiorentina.

Roma, who before the sequence of ties had set a new record for the best-ever start to a Serie A campaign by winning their first 10 games, are three points behind Serie A leaders Juventus, who won 2-0 at Bologna on Friday.

"A week ago they said Roma were no good. Now they say we are scudetto material and it's a bit strange," said Frenchman Garcia.

"This victory shows that we are in good shape on the psychological and physical level and in terms of the quality of our play. "We're in the title race. What's most important is that we're unbeaten".

Perhaps the most pleasing feature of the victory for Garcia was that 22-year-old striker Mattia Destro scored the winner shortly after coming on as substitute following a 10-month knee injury ordeal.

Roma maintained their strong defence during the run of draws - they have conceded only five goals in the league - but they looked less dangerous in attack.

Another boost is that inspirational captain Francesco Totti was called up and back on the bench having recovered from a hamstring problem he suffered in October. And Ivorian forward Gervinho produced a superlative display like the ones he regularly served up early in the season, laying on both Roma goals, after recently coming back from an injury layoff of his own.

"I'm happy for my players, for our fans and also for Mattia Destro, who had been out of action for 10 months," said Garcia.

"His goal is a good sign for the team. "I honestly was not worried about the draws. I never had any doubts about my squad, because I see them working hard every day. I see their hunger and their quality". The championship is starting to look like a two-horse race after third-placed Napoli and fourth-placed Inter Milan both dropped points.

Napoli have 32 points from 15 games, eight points less than champions Juve, after being held 3-3 at home by Udinese.

Inter are four points further back after being held to their third consecutive draw - 3-3 - by Parma at the San Siro Stadium.

AC Milan's problems continued as they also failed to win.

The seven-time European champions are 22 points off the pace in ninth-place after being held 2-2 at struggling Livorno despite a fine double by Italy striker Mario Balotelli. Roma's American Chairman James Pallotta, meanwhile, led a club delegation on Monday to meet Rome Mayor Ignazio Marino to discuss plans for a new stadium.

Roma current pay rent to the Italian Olympic Committee to use the Stadio Olimpico on match days.

The three-time Serie A champions have to share their current home with city rivals Lazio and, occasionally, the Italian national rugby team.

The aim is for the 52,000-seat stadium to be ready to host games in the south of the capital by the start of the 2016-17 season.

"We are grateful to Mayor Marino for agreeing to the meeting and welcoming us to city hall," said Pallotta, part of the Boston-based consortium that made Roma Serie A's first foreign controlled club in 2011.

"Our planning continues and we found the mayor's and executive councillors' input, suggestions and comments invaluable. "We want to thank them for their time and look forward to continuing our efforts with a great spirit of partnership with the city on this project".