Mohamed Salah stars as AS Roma rise to the top of Serie A’s crop

AS Roma are top of the Serie A table after Mohamed Salah's one-goal, one-assist performance fuelled a 2-1 win over previous leaders Fiorentina on Sunday night.

AS Roma's Mohamed Salah celebrates with teammate Gervinho on Sunday during his team's Serie A victory over Fiorentina. Alberto Pizzoli / AFP / October 25, 2015
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First-half goals from Mohamed Salah and Gervinho in a 2-1 win over leaders Fiorentina fired AS Roma to the top of Serie A as the team underlined their scudetto credentials in style on Sunday.

Fiorentina dropped two places to third after Napoli marksman Gonzalo Higuain struck on the hour to secure a 1-0 win over Chievo and send Maurizio Sarri's men up to second place.

Napoli, Fiorentina, Inter Milan, held to a 1-1 draw at Palermo on Saturday, and Lazio are all now just two points adrift of Roma after nine games.

Champions Juventus are a further six points back in 12th after Argentinian Paulo Dybala scored one and provided the assist for Mario Mandzukic's strike in a 2-0 win over Atalanta to secure what was just the Turin giants' third win of the campaign.

Roma are in the hot seat and while coach Rudi Garcia applauded both his goalscorers and his team, the Frenchman played down claims they were now title favourites.

“We came here to claim top spot, and had the right attitude to the game,” he told Sky Sport.

“We believe in ourselves, but we have to stay humble because we know the season is long.”

He added: “The lads did what I asked, which was to press high up the field when they were in possession and hit them on the counter.

“Gervinho and Salah made plenty of sacrifices to contribute defensively, but did very well for us up front. They were brilliant.”

It was a nervous return to Florence for Egyptian international Salah, who is still the subject of a dispute with his former club following his summer move to the Stadio Olimpico.

Whistled every time he touched the ball, Salah reminded fans what they are missing after just seven minutes when he put the visitors ahead with a fine opener.

Roma midfielder Radja Nainggolan had done well to win the ball with a sliding tackle just outside the area and set up Salah for the Egyptian to fire a superb curling strike that beat Ciprian Tatarusanu at the goalkeeper’s far post.

There were no celebrations, just a brief prayer of thanks from the practising Muslim.

Fiorentina spurned a series of early chances, Facundo Roncaglia firing just wide of Wojciech Szczesny’s post with the keeper at full stretch and Nikola Kalinic firing just over the onrushing Szczesny after beating the offside trap to run on to a through ball from his own half.

Fiorentina were pressing high and enjoying plenty of possession but with the chance to go top the visitors’ defence was on full alert.

Fiorentina eventually paid the price when Alessandro Florenzi pounced on a mis-hit pass to launch a long ball forward for Gervinho, who turned on the turbo boosters to power down the right flank.

Salah had pulled almost level with the Ivorian on a two-on-two but Gervinho kept his composure to beat Tatarusanu with an angled strike from the edge of the box.

Fiorentina continued to impress but failed to put the finishing touch to their many creations, until Khouma Babacar came off the bench on 81 minutes to halve the deficit with a great first-time strike with virtually the last kick of the game in injury time.

Fiorentina coach Paulo Sousa could only lament missed opportunities.

“We played our usual game, keeping possession and creating chances,” he said.

“Unfortunately, we weren’t clinical enough. Although we’re not winning, we continue to dominate our rivals.”

After Juve kept their third clean sheet in succession, coach Massimiliano Allegri was buoyed.

“The lads played well, it’s the third game in succession we haven’t conceded,” said Allegri.

Yet, more than one team is looking to capitalise on Juve’s poor start, and Napoli remain in the mix after Higuain’s impressive 59th-minute strike settled a tense encounter in Verona.

It was the Argentinian’s seventh goal in nine games and pulled him level with league-leading Sampdoria striker Eder, who took his tally to seven earlier Sunday in a 4-1 hammering of Verona.

Earlier, AC Milan ended a three-game winless streak with a 2-1 home win over Sassuolo, while Lazio forward Felipe Anderson hit a brace in a 3-0 win over Torino that sent the capital club up to fifth place.

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