Nzonzi, Džeko score as resurgent Roma move third in Serie A

Steven Nzonzi scored Roma’s first goal against Empoli. (AFP pic)

MILAN: Steven Nzonzi and Edin Džeko scored in either half as resurgent Roma won their fourth consecutive game to move third in Serie A with a 2-0 win over promoted Empoli in Tuscany on Saturday.

Eusebio Di Francesco’s side had slumped to ninth after a four-game winless streak, but jumped into the top three with a win over second-from-bottom Empoli.

French World Cup winner Nzonzi headed in his first goal for Roma since his move from Sevilla in the 36th minute, with Bosnian ace Džeko following his midweek Champions League hattrick against Viktoria Plzeň by wrapping up the points five minutes from time.

Roma are now ten points behind leaders Juventus, who have a maximum 24 points after eight games, and one point adrift of Carlo Ancelotti’s Napoli who host Sassuolo on Sunday.

“The main thing is we’re back winning,” said Džeko.

“It wasn’t an easy period but we worked our way through it. We have now won four games in a row heading into the international break and we have fixed things a bit.”

Teenage defender Luca Pellegrini got his first Roma start, with midfielder Javier Pastore and defender Aleksandar Kolarov injured.

Lorenzo Pellegrini sent a free kick over for Nzonzi to get the opener.

Ismaël Bennacer rattled the woodwork for the hosts after the break with Francesco Caputo blazing a penalty over the crossbar on 58 minutes after a Cengiz Ünder handball.

But Džeko grabbed the second, collecting a Stephan El Shaarawy through ball to fire into the roof of the net.

Roma have now won their last four games over Frosinone, Lazio, Plzeň, and Empoli. In these games they have scored a total of 14 goals with just one conceded.

But Di Francesco insisted there was room for improvement.

“We made a few too many mistakes and tended to switch off at times. That’s why I changed the system in the second half.”