Destro, Bastos see Roma past Sassuolo
Goals in either half from Mattia Destro and Michel Bastos helped Roma to a cagey 2-0 win away to Serie A strugglers Sassuolo to close the gap on leaders Juventus to 11 points on Sunday.
Juve are at third-placed Napoli later Sunday when they will be looking to restore their 14-point lead as they stride towards a likely third consecutive scudetto.
Roma, held 1-1 at home by Sassuolo in the first half of the season, travelled to the league strugglers looking for what, on paper, looked to be an easy win.
However Sassuolo claims for a penalty were denied in the first half after it had been signalled by the goal-line assistant and Eusebio De Francesco's relegation candidates remained a threat until Bastos came off the bench to double Roma's lead in added-on time.
Paolo Cannavaro threatened for the hosts before the quarter-hour mark when his first-time effort from the edge of the area was deflected wide.
Roma had the early running, though, and when Radja Nainggolan dispossessed Simone Missiroli in the 16th minute to set up Destro, the striker easily chipped past the onrushing Gianluca Pegolo in the Sassuolo net.
Sassuolo thought they had earned the chance to level when Nicola Sansone burst into the area and slipped after making slight contact with Roma defender Mehdi Benatia.
Referee Nicola Rizzoli did not initially award a penalty but after the goal-line assistant signalled a foul, it prompted a four-minute heated discussion which ultimately led Rizzoli to rule out the spot-kick and award a Roma drop kick.
Destro came close to doubling Roma's lead eight minutes after the restart when he broke through on to Miralem Pjanic's pass but failed to get weight behind his his shot and Pegolo easily blocked.
Minutes later Alessandro Florenzi forced Pegolo into action with a drive from distance and on the hour, when Pedro Mendes brought down Destro, Pjanic curled the resulting freekick over the crossbar.
Moments later Gervinho was stopped in his tracks yards after breaking through on the Sassuolo goal.
Francesco Totti came off the bench with 12 minutes to play and moments later Domenico Berardi pounced on a loose ball on the edge of the area only to whip his first-time effort over Morgan De Sanctis's crossbar.
At the other end Florenzi flashed a shot wide of goal, but Roma put the game beyond reach in the final minute of play when Rodrigo Taddei dispossessed Mendes in midfield.
The ball found Totti, who sent Bastos through on goal for the Brazilian to beat Pegolo with an angled strike for his first goal of the campaign.