Roma shows off its title credentials as fans desert derby

ROME (AP) Combining the power of Edin Dzeko with the speed of Gervinho and Mohamed Salah, Roma has the makings of a squad prepared to compete for its first title in 15 years.

With or without the Giallorossi's most dedicated supporters.

Dzeko and Gervinho scored a goal in each half as Roma beat Lazio 2-0 in a derby Sunday that was boycotted by ''ultra'' fans of both sides as a protest over new security measures at the Stadio Olimpico.

There was no pre-match choreography, none of the usual pyrotechnics and few banners as both ends or ''curve'' of the stadium were left largely empty.

''I hope this situation is resolved soon and I hope the derby can become a celebration again,'' Roma's Alessandro Florenzi said.

It's not the first time this season that fans have shown their displeasure with barriers erected at either end in the middle of the ''curve'' and a line of stewards reducing the areas' capacities.

''Without the curve it didn't feel like a derby,'' Roma coach Rudi Garcia said.

The 20,000 or so fans who did show up - most of them supporters of Roma, the home squad - were rewarded when Dzeko gave Roma the lead with a penalty 10 minutes in after getting tripped by defender Santiago Gentiletti as he controlled a pass from Salah.

Replays, however, showed that the foul occurred just outside the area.

''The match was shaped by a non-existent penalty,'' Lazio manager Stefano Pioli said.

Shortly after the hour mark, Gervinho sprinted past Lazio's defense to control a long pass from Radja Nainggolan with his thigh, then ran by defender Dusan Basta to score with a precise, angled shot.

''We can't concede a second goal like that,'' Pioli added. ''We assume full responsibility.''

Both sides also hit the goalframe in an entertaining match.

A blistering 25-meter (yard) effort from Lazio's Felipe Anderson banged off the crossbar in the 26th and a long, rolling shot from Nainggolan hit the post in the 40th.

''The squad is mature, I think you saw that today,'' Florenzi added. ''We dominated for 90 minutes except for (Anderson's shot).''

Besides the absence of fans, the only negative note for Roma came when Salah was carried off on a stretcher early in the second half after getting his right ankle twisted by a defender's boot.

''If there's no fracture it will be a miracle,'' Garcia said.

Roma is in second place, one point behind Inter Milan, which beat the Giallorossi 1-0 last weekend.

Lazio is nine points behind the leader.

At the final whistle, Roma's players applauded the fans but didn't run hand-in-hand toward the southern end of the stadium as usual.

Dzeko appeared particularly pleased. Having also scored in Roma's 3-2 win over Bayer Leverkusen in the Champions League on Wednesday, Dzeko is rediscovering his form after a rough start to the season following his loan from Manchester City.

It was Dzeko's second goal in Serie A and his third overall for Roma. The Bosnia international scored 72 goals in 189 appearances in 4 1/2 seasons for City before dropping down the striker pecking order at the English Premier League club.

The 29-year-old Dzeko will move permanently to Roma if certain performance conditions are met at the end of the season.

Ivory Coast international Gervinho has a team-high six goals in Serie A, one more than Salah and standout playmaker and free kick specialist Miralem Pjanic, who missed the derby through suspension.

Roma was also without its two most emblematic players, with both captain Francesco Totti and midfielder Daniele De Rossi injured.

The fans' absence was the most notable, though, and it was their loss.


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