Serie A roundup: Dzeko brace cuts Juve’s lead on Roma to 5 points
MILAN (AP) Edin Dzeko continued his astonishing season with a double to help Roma beat Empoli 2-0 in Serie A on Saturday.
The goals took Dzeko’s tally to 33 for the season in all competitions. He is the league leading scorer with 23, one more than Torino’s Andrea Belotti.
Dzeko is just three off his best tally of 26 league goals for Wolfsburg in the 2008-09 season. There are eight Serie A matches remaining.
It is all a far cry from last season, when Dzeko managed just eight goals in 31 appearances in his first Serie A campaign.
Roma will hope he can deliver again when they play city rival Lazio in the second leg of their Italian Cup semifinal on Tuesday.
“We had an average match,” Dzeko said. “Maybe our minds were on the derby a bit but we did our bit and we got the three points.
“The cup match is such an important test. It will be difficult to overturn the 2-0 deficit, but we are a strong team.”
Dzeko scored his first early when Antonio Rudiger flicked on Leandro Paredes’ corner and it went in off Dzeko’s knee.
The Bosnia and Herzegovina forward doubled his tally in the second half. Mohamed Salah nodded down Diego Perotti’s cross and Dzeko swept it past Empoli goalkeeper Lukasz Skorupski, who is on loan from Roma.
Salah almost got on the scoresheet in the 70th but his header came off the crossbar.
Roma moved to five points behind league leader Juventus, which visits third-placed Napoli on Sunday.
A late own goal boosted Lazio’s hopes of sneaking into the Champions League at the start of an important eight days for the capital side.
Lazio moved to three points behind third-placed Napoli. The two meet in Rome next Sunday, five days after Lazio plays Roma in the second leg of their Italian Cup semifinal.
“It’s a very important victory for us, against a strong team and in a difficult stadium,” Lazio coach Simone Inzaghi said. “We won deservedly, because we believed in it more.
“Will I support Juventus in tomorrow’s match? I don’t really look at other teams because two days after we have the derby which will be very difficult. Then from Wednesday we’ll think about Napoli.”
It looked as if the match was heading for a draw before Keita Balde Diao crossed to fellow substitute Cristiano Lombardi, who was unmarked at the back post. He rolled the ball across the area and it ricocheted in off Francesco Acerbi and goalkeeper Andrea Consigli six minutes from time.
Lorenzo Pellegrini almost leveled in the final minute but hit the crossbar.
Sassuolo hadn’t won since February but took a surprise lead in the 26th when Domenico Berardi was tripped by Thomas Strakosha, and he sent the resulting penalty straight down the middle for his first goal since August.
Gregoire Defrel almost doubled Sassuolo’s lead immediately but sent his effort just wide of the left upright.
Lazio leveled three minutes from the break when Ciro Immobile beat the offside trap to run onto Felipe Anderson’s through ball and fire across into the bottom right corner.
Lazio could have taken the lead on the stroke of halftime but Paolo Cannavaro hooked Immobile’s effort off the goal-line.