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Mohamed Salah comes off bench as Roma fall to Napoli


(Photo by Marco Rosi/Getty Images)

Mohamed Salah was unable to inspire AS Roma as they fell to a 2-1 home defeat to rivals Napoli in Serie A on Saturday.

The Giallorossi were seeking victory, as they’re looking to keep the pressure on Serie A leaders Juventus and distance themselves from third-placed Napoli.

The visitors dominated the first half, effectively preventing Roma from threatening. Salah came on as a second-half substitute to boost their attack, as the hosts were initially unable to make a serious impact.

Roma thought they had taken a surprise lead through Diego Perotti, however, the goal was rightly ruled out for handball.

Dries Mertens grabbed the first for Napoli, scoring after 26 minutes when he was played through the heart of the Roma defence, finishing with a delicate chip over Wojciech Szczesny.

Mertens doubled the score five minutes after halftime, finishing high into the net from a few yards out when Lorenzo Insigne swung in a well-placed cross after possession was given away by the Roma defence.

Roma responded by bringing on Salah in place of the ineffective Stephan El Shaarawy. This almost brought immediate rewards as both Salah and Perotti went close, with shots being blocked and saved, respectively.

This signalled the beginning of a period of pressure for the home team. They were unable to take advantage, as Bruno Peres flashed a shot wide under pressure. Salah then almost pulled a goal back, but his shot came back off of the woodwork.

Eventually, Napoli crumbled under the pressure as Kevin Strootman slotted in, to half the deficit in the 89th minute.

It was only due to the heroics of Pepe Reina in the Napoli goal that Roma could not find an equaliser. Perotti went close, but Reina pulled off a magnificent save to preserve his team’s lead.

Roma remain second in the league, seven points behind Juventus, who have a game in hand, and only two ahead of Napoli.

Their next match is against Lyon in the Europa league on March 9.

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