Destro hat-trick closes Juve gap to five points
Mattia Destro scored his maiden Serie A hat-trick in Roma's 3-1 win away to Cagliari on Sunday to help reduce the gap to leaders Juventus to just five points.
Juventus are widely expected to restore their eight-point lead when they host Livorno on Monday.
But with the Serie A strugglers battling for their top flight survival the Giallorossi will hope, for 24 hours at least, that their dream of a first scudetto since 2001 is not over yet.
Roma coach Rudi Garcia told Sky Sport Italia his side's priority was to "put smiles on the fans' faces", but he added: "We're five points behind Juve and 12 ahead of Napoli. Now, it's up to them to play."
He added: "The race for the title isn't over, but it's not down to us. All we have right now is a tight grip on second place, and we'll try to hold on to it until the end of the season."
Destro gave Roma a 32nd minute lead after finishing off a counter-attack with Gervinho, although the visitors were given a helping hand by Cagliari's defence.
Destro sent the Ivorian through but overplayed his pass, forcing Gervinho to turn and send the ball back towards goal where the Sardinians' defence, despite their superiority in numbers, somehow left the Italian to tap home from close range.
Destro doubled Roma's lead 12 minutes into the second half, and once again the Cagliari defence was largely to blame.
Former Cagliari midfielder Radja Nainggolan sent Destro clear down the middle, leaving the striker to drive virtually unchallenged towards goal and beat Vlada Avramov at the keeper's right post.
Destro completed his hat-trick in the 73rd minute when Cagliari's four-man defence crumbled under the trident of Gervinho, Alessandro Florenzi and Destro.
Cagliari reduced arrears a minute before full-time when Mauricio Pinilla beat Morgan De Sanctis from the penalty spot after being brought down by Mehdi Benatia.
Destro was already Roma's top scorer but has now taken his tally to 13 for the season, five behind Juventus striker Carlos Tevez and Torino's Ciro Immobile, who are tied on 18.
The Italian striker's exploits are also likely to secure his call-up to Cesare Prandelli's squad for this summer's World Cup.
But when asked about his expectations, the 23-year-old striker said: "Let's hope so. All I can do is concentrate on doing my best to make sure we win every Sunday."
Roma have now extended their lead over third-placed Napoli to 12 points ahead of their visit to Parma later Sunday.
Fiorentina held on for a 2-1 win at home to Udinese thanks to goals from Juan Cuadrado and Gonzalo Rodriguez, from the penalty spot, with Bruno Fernandes reducing arrears eight minutes from time for the visitors.
La Viola remain fourth and while nine points behind Napoli in the last available Champions League spot are five ahead of Inter.
Elsewhere, Alexander Farnerud and Ciro Immobile struck one apiece in a late comeback win for Torino after Gonzalo Bergessio had given hosts Catania a second-minute lead.
At the other end of the table Sassuolo injected a sliver of hope into their relegation battle with a shock 2-0 win away to Atalanta, thanks to a double from Nicolae Sansone.
Sassuolo, however, remain second from bottom and are three points from safety.
Earlier, Antonio Candreva and Senad Lulic struck in either half for 10-man Lazio to secure a precious 2-0 win over Sampdoria which pushed them up to sixth, two points adrift of Inter.
Candreva gave Lazio a 42nd minute lead and although the Biancocelesti lost Lucas Biglia, who saw red for a second bookable offence on 57 minutes, Lulic settled the match in the 73rd minute.
Reja, who in midweek said he wouldn't bet a euro on his side's Europa League hopes, has since backpedalled.
"I'm proud and satisfied: we're on a positive streak and we'll fight all the way to grab a Europa League place."