Chris Smalling scores as Roma return to winning ways against Spezia

Roma returned to winning ways in Serie A after back-to-back losses with a routine 2-0 victory over struggling Spezia at the Stadio Olimpico.

Setbacks against Bologna and title-chasing Inter Milan this month had left Roma 11 points adrift of the top four, with Jose Mourinho facing the first mini-crisis of his reign, having taken charge in the summer.

But any nerves were quickly calmed as English duo Chris Smalling and Tammy Abraham combined for the opener after seven minutes while Roger Ibanez made sure of the win before the hour mark.

A backpedalling Abraham headed Jordan Veretout’s corner back towards goal, allowing an unmarked Smalling to nod beyond Spezia goalkeeper Ivan Provedel.

Spezia were undone from another set-piece 11 minutes after the restart when Ibanez headed home from a corner, with the visitors never really threatening an upset as they remain 17th, two points above the drop zone.

Felix Afena-Gyan had a goal chalked off in added-on time and salt was rubbed into the wound as the Roma substitute received a second yellow card and his marching orders for deliberate handball in the build-up, with Mourinho appearing livid on the touchline, but his side moved up to sixth after an otherwise trouble-free win.

There was also late drama in LaLiga at the Estadio Nuevo Mirandilla in Cadiz, who had substitute Salvi sent off late on after being pegged back in a 1-1 draw against Granada.

Santiago Arzamendia had given Cadiz a 32nd-minute lead but Jorge Molina levelled with just two minutes to go before Salvi saw red in the second minute of time added on following a second bookable offence.


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