Mohamed Salah at the double as Roma show desire to stay in title hunt
Mohamed Salah scored twice as Roma moved to within two points of second-placed Napoli with a thumping 4-1 win over Serie A rivals Fiorentina at the Olympic Stadium.
The two sides had started the match level on 53 points in the table, but Roma took control from the start to extend their winning run in the league to six consecutive games.
The result was a major setback for Fiorentina, who saw their faint Serie A title hopes all but extinguished as a result and also the end of their own eight-match unbeaten domestic run.
It took 22 minutes for the home side to grab the lead in a move started by the vision of Bosnian Miralem Pjanic, whose superb pass set Salah free down the right and his cross found Stephan El Shaarawy to sweep home.
Former Chelsea man Salah, playing against the club he enjoyed a four-month loan spell with last season, made it 2-0 when he scored his first of the night just three minutes later, and the hosts almost grabbed an immediate third.
Diego Perotti seized on a poor back-pass by Davide Astori to nip in behind the stretched Fiorentina rearguard, but his attempted nutmeg of goalkeeper Ciprian Tatarusanu did not quite pay off and he hit a post.
But Perotti made amends in the 38th minute, sweeping home after El Shaarawy won a header in the area against Fiorentina defender Gonzalo Rodriguez.
Fiorentina gained a glimmer of hope in first-half injury time when substitute Cristian Tello, who had replaced the injured Borja Valero on the half-hour, was fouled by Lucas Digne in the area.
Home protestations were waved away and Josip Ilicic stepped up to beat Wojciech Szczesny from the spot and reduce the deficit.
But Fiorentina's hopes were soon dashed as Roma's fast-paced attacking trio continued to stretch their opponents' rearguard in the early stages of the second half.
Just before the hour mark Salah scored his second and his side's fourth of the night when he was sent into the area by Pjanic and fired the ball past a helpless Tatarusanu in the visitors' goal.
Coach Luca Spalletti even had time to bring on Franceso Totti in place of El Shaarawy and the veteran marked his cameo with a wonderful free-kick that hit a post, while Edin Dzeko also made a late appearance.
By then the visitors were well beaten as Spalletti's men summoned the kind of performance that suggests, despite still trailing Serie A leaders Juventus by five points having played one game more, they could still have a significant say in the title race.