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All is well at Roma after win over Juve

Updated: 2014-01-23 08:24
By Reuters in Rome ( China Daily)

AS Roma continues to reap the rewards of a rejuvenated Gervinho after the Cote d'Ivoire international scored the winner in its 1-0 win over Juventus in the Italian Cup quarterfinals on Tuesday.

The 27-year-old, who scored with an acrobatic finish 11 minutes from time, is enjoying a new lease of life after struggling at English side Arsenal, where his sometimes comical finishing and bizarre performances made him the object of derision.

"I am truly happy, because I scored and because we played well," said Gervinho, who will travel to Brazil to play in this summer's World Cup.

"It was very exciting for me and it wasn't easy to play against Juve, as they were well-covered defensively. We have got our revenge for the league game."

Tuesday's goal was Gervinho's fifth of the season and easily his most important since being brought to Rome by manager Rudi Garcia.

His finishing is still spotty, as evidenced by the chances he missed during Saturday's 3-0 win over Livorno, but his close control and lightning pace terrifies defenders.

After a crushing 3-0 Serie A defeat to Juve earlier this month, Roma has won four straight in the league and cup without conceding a goal.

"It was a win that we wanted at all costs," said Roma captain Francesco Totti. "We had to get our own back for the horrible defeat we suffered in Turin. Today we showed ourselves to be at the same level as a very good Juve side."

In the two-leg semifinals, the Giallorossi will face one of their deadly rivals, Napoli or Lazio, who meet at the San Paolo Stadium in Naples next Wednesday.

The victory also means Roma remains on track for a 10th Italian Cup triumph and gives it a psychological boost in the title race, although Juve started without key players like midfielder Paul Pogba and strikers Fernando Llorente and Carlos Tevez.

"For me there isn't a big gap between us, even if it's the league table that counts. Eight points is a lot, we are having a brilliant season, but they are doing even better?" said Totti.

"If we carry on the way we played in the first half of the season we will be close to Juve, but if they stay at the same level, it will be difficult."

The team's fans also appear to be back on side after beginning the season with furious protests outside the Trigoria training ground and manager Garcia now seems to have won them over.

Rome will now face three derbies in the space of a week if Lazio beats Napoli in the cup quarters, with a league encounter scheduled for Feb 9 sandwiched between the two midweek legs of the semifinal.

This would cause serious headaches for police and local authorities due to the threat of violence, but for Roma fans it would be the perfect chance to avenge the Italian Cup final defeat that ended last year's disastrous campaign.

"It's not my problem who we face," said Gervinho.

"I am focused only on reaching the final and winning the next game."

(China Daily 01/23/2014 page23)