Salah braces helps see off La Viola

Roma kept their Champions League hopes alive with a convincing 4-1 win over fellow European hopefuls Fiorentina at Stadio Olimpico on Friday.

The hosts were in command midway through the first half following two goals in quick succession from Stephan El Shaarawy and Mohamed Salah, before Diego Perotti added a third as the break approached.

Josip Ilicic halved the deficit from the penalty spot on the stroke of half-time, but Salah completed his brace early in the second half to wrap up a seventh consecutive victory in Serie A for the third-placed Giallorossi, who moved within five points of the summit ahead of the weekend fixtures, while La Viola remain three points further adrift in fourth.

Paulo Sousa’s side were looking to keep their own title challenge on track after going unbeaten in their previous seven league encounters, but they found themselves trailing after 22 minutes when Miralem Pjanic released Salah down the right flank and he crossed for El Shaarawy to score the opener.

Just three minutes later the hosts extended their lead through Salah, who received a pass from Diego Perotti before lining up a shot from outside the area that beat Ciprian Tatarusanu in the visiting goal.

It could have been worse for the Florence outfit had Perotti not hit the post moments later after he had pounced on a poor backpass from Davide Astori before nutmegging Tatarusanu.

However, Perotti was not to be denied as he finally got on the scoresheet on 38 minutes, steering the ball home from El Shaarawy’s downward header.

The visitors did manage to pull one back in first-half stoppage time when they were awarded a penalty for Lucas Digne’s foul on Cristian Tello, with Ilicic converting from 12 yards out.

But Salah killed off their feint hopes just 13 minutes into the second half, firing past a helpless Tatarusanu from inside the area after being played in by Pjanic.

Roma talisman Franceso Totti was introduced in the closing stages and he nearly added a fifth from a well-taken free-kick that came back off the woodwork.