REUTERS – AS Roma’s Daniele De Rossi celebrated his 500th appearance for the club with a goal in their 3-1 win over Empoli at the Olympic Stadium as they moved up to second place in Serie A on Saturday.
De Rossi’s strike was sandwiched between goals from Miralem Pjanic and Mohamed Salah in 13 second-half minutes as lowly Empoli slumped to their fifth defeat of the season.
The win put Roma on 17 points, one behind leaders Fiorentina who travel to Napoli on Sunday. Inter Milan and Lazio can overtake Roma if they defeat Juventus and Sassuolo respectively.
AC Milan ended their losing streak with a 1-1 draw at fifth-placed Torino as Daniele Baselli’s 73rd minute effort cancelled out Carlos Bacca’s opener from 10 minutes earlier.
Rudi Garcia’s Roma side had threatened to open the scoring on several occasions during the first half but were unable to unlock the resilient Empoli defence.
Pjanic broke the deadlock for the Giallorossi in the 56th minute with a long-range free kick after Alessandro Florenzi was brought down by Leandro Paredes.
Midfielder De Rossi, in his 15th season at the club, headed a Pjanic corner past Lukasz Skorupski three minutes later to delight the home fans.
Roma’s two most eye-catching players on the day — Gervinho and Salah — then combined in the 69th minute for the third.
Gervinho tore down the left, outpacing Marco Zambelli, before crossing for Salah, who evaded the attentions of Mario Rui and beat Skorupski with a powerful shot into the roof of the net.
Empoli grabbed a 75th minute consolation goal when Marcel Buechel beat goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny from outside the area, but Roma held on for their fifth league victory of the campaign.
Milan, who remain in 11th with 10 points, were much improved after consecutive defeats and took the lead just past the hour when Andrea Bertolacci combined with Giacomo Bonaventura before crossing to the unmarked Bacca.
The striker demonstrated superb control, and gave Daniele Padelli no chance with his finish.
Torino equalised after catching Milan out with a superb flowing move. Andrea Belotti controlled Fabio Quagliarella’s chipped ball forward with his shoulder, laying it into the path of Baselli who took a touch before firing past Diego Lopez.
(Editing by Ken Ferris)