By Julian Cardillo
ROME -- AS Roma followed coach Zdenek Zeman's script in taking a 4-1 win over third-to-last place Palermo at the Stadio Olimpico on Sunday night. All four of the team's premier strikers scored in snapping a two-game losing streak and catapulting Roma (4-3-2, 17 points) forward three spots in standings, two points behind rivals Lazio.
The result was both an important victory and a signal that Zemanís decisions pay off, if his players avoid mental lapses that lead to big mistakes. On Sunday, Zeman took risks by choosing to rest playmaker Daniele De Rossi and playing goalkeeper Mauro Goicoechea, 26, in place of Maarten Stekelenburg (shoulder).
It looked like Zemanís gambles would backfire in the opening minutes when Palermo dominated Roma in possession. But in the 10th minute, the tables turned when Francesco Totti scored the first goal, heading in the rebound of Ivan Pirisí cross that deflected off a player and then the underside of the crossbar.
Piris contributed to a second goal in the 30th minute, sending a ball into the penalty area for Pablo Osvaldo. Samir Ujkani got to the ball before Osvaldo and caught it, though he then collided with teammate Ezequiel Munoz and dropped the ball. Osvaldo ran onto the loose ball, took a touch, and slotted it into the back of the net to double Romaís lead with his sixth goal of the season.
Roma dominated the opening stages of the second half, as well. Nicolas Burdisso forced a reaction save from Ujkani off a corner kick (48th), Osvaldo missed a one-on-one (56th), and Federico Balzaretti had a bid for a goal against his former team smothered by Ujkani (61st).
Erik Lamela reasserted Romaís scoring touch in the 68th minute by tapping in a through ball from Totti for his team-leading seventh goal of the season. Totti found himself with the ball in the penalty area, took a touch, and found Lamela unmarked with Ujkani at his mercy and with a chance to extend the lead to three.
Mattia Destro came on for Totti in the 73rd impact and made an immediate impact. First, he earned a yellow card for a late tackle on Michel Morganella. Then, in the 79th minute, he finished a through ball from Lamela by rounding Ujkani and tapping in his first career Roma goal. Destro began taking his jersey off to celebrate, though he quickly put it back on in realization that he could earn a second yellow card and be sent off. But referee Luca Nicoletti determined that enough of Destroís jersey had come off to warrant a card, and Destro was sent off moments later.
Destroís ejection caused Zeman to take off Lamela for a defensive player, bringing on Miralem Pjanic. But Pjanic stayed too far upfield, giving Palermo plenty of space in Romaís defense to exploit. In the 84th minute, Josip Ilicic ran onto a loose ball at the top of the penalty area and pounded in a consolation strike past Goicoechea. Ilicicí goal was the only blemish on Goicoechea performance. The young keeper made six saves to reward Zemanís faith.
Though Goicoechea played a confident game, his efforts werenít enough to stop Romaís three-game cleansheet-less streak. Sundayís result was Romaís second win at home and their largest margin of victory this season. Romaís next meets Lazio Sunday.
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