Dybala fires Roma third at Torino, Bologna close in on Euro spots

AFP , Saturday 8 Apr 2023

Paulo Dybala fired Roma third in Serie A with the decisive penalty in Saturday's 1-0 win at Torino, while Bologna won 2-0 at Atalanta to boost their hopes of European football for the first time this century.

Roma s Paulo Dybala, left, celebrates after scoring his team s first goal during the Italian Serie A
Roma s Paulo Dybala, left, celebrates after scoring his team s first goal during the Italian Serie A soccer match between Torino and Roma, at the Olimpico Grande Torino Stadium in Turin, Italy, Saturday, April 8, 2023. AP

Dybala has been Roma's talisman since arriving as a free agent last summer, and he was once again key for the capital club when he confidently netted his 11th league goal of the season in the eighth minute in Turin.

The Argentina international's strike was enough for Jose Mourinho's solid side to leapfrog both AC Milan and Inter Milan, who could only manage respective draws with Empoli and Salernitana on Friday.

Roma are a point ahead of champions Milan while Inter have been knocked out of the Champions League places after collecting just one point from their last four matches.

It was a classic Mourinho-style performance from Roma, a traditionally flaky team who have become an extremely well-drilled outfit and could make Europe's top competition next season as a result.

"We have a limited squad and we're in the last eight of a Europa League which seems more like a Champions League this year, we're playing three times a week," said Mourinho to DAZN.

"That's a problem for us, but I can't think like I'm at a little team... let's go game by game and we'll see where our limits are."

Smart second-half finishes from Nicola Sansone and Riccardo Orsolini moved eighth-placed Bologna to within five points of Atalanta, who sit sixth and in Serie A's Europa Conference League spot.

That place in Europe's third-tier club competition will drop down to seventh, currently occupied by Juventus, if a team already qualified for continental football wins the Italian Cup.

Bologna eye Europe

Bologna have not featured in a major European competition since reaching the third round of the UEFA Cup in 1999 -- although they did win the now defunct Intertoto Cup in 2002 -- but were excellent at the Gewiss Stadium.

The only down note for the away side was Orsolini being booked for taking his shirt off to celebrate a goal which was ruled out for offside, meaning he will miss next weekend's home clash with Milan.

"I forgot I was on a booking. It's a shame because Milan at home is a big match and I'm annoyed not to be there," said Sansone.

"It's still early to say (about Europe), we have nine games remaining so it's a bit reductive to talk about it."

Atalanta are now looking over their shoulders at Juve, who are four points behind the Bergamo outfit and at Lazio later on Saturday.

Thiago Motta's team are two points ahead of Fiorentina, whose winning run ended at nine matches after M'Bala Nzola's 13th goal of the season gave Spezia a 1-1 draw in Florence.

An incredible Eldor Shomorodov miss late on cost 17th-placed Spezia, who are now just four points above the relegation zone after Adolfo Gaich's stoppage-time strike gave Verona a potentially huge 2-1 win over Sassuolo.

Sampdoria are heading towards Serie B however after two late goals from Luka Lochoshvili and Leonardo Sernicola gave Cremonese a dramatic 3-2 away win and left their distraught hosts bottom of the division.

Samp had been a goal ahead with five minutes to go through headers from Mehdi Leris and Sam Lammers but Sernicola's beautiful finish in the fifth minute of stoppage time left the home side 11 points behind Spezia.

Promoted Cremonese are only a point above Samp after their second win of the season and are still likely to drop straight back down.

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