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Roma 3-0 Cagliari: Big boost to Champions League hopes

A blistering start proved the key as Roma delivered one of their most impressive performances of the season to clinch an important three points against Cagliari on Saturday evening.

Needing to win to put the pressure on in the race to qualify for next season's Champions League, goals inside the first 10 minutes from Federico Fazio and Javier Pastore - who was making his first start for the club in 2019 - proved an immediate and decisive response.

The Giallorossi were in efferverscent form throughout the 90 minutes and could have scored plenty more, although in the end Aleksandar Kolarov's late finish was the only other time Alessio Cragno was beaten, as Roma settled for a 3-0 win.

Nevertheless, Claudio Ranieri's side temporarily moved into fourth in the Serie A standings - with Atalanta and AC Milan still to play this weekend.

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Ranieri set his stall out from the start, opting to restore Pastore to the starting line-up in an attacking 4-2-3-1 formation, alongside Stephan El Shaarawy and Justin Kluivert and with Edin Dzeko leading the line.

But it was Fazio who almost immediately broke the deadlock, the central defender rising highest inside the box to head home via the inside of the post, with goalline technology confirming the ball had crossed the line before Cragno clawed it away.

The Olimpico barely had time to celebrate that fast start before it was 2-0. And it was Pastore who scored it, the midfielder taking a touch and slotting home after fine work down the right from Kluivert.

That put the home side in control and they continued to press home their advantage, only to be denied by a combination of good goalkeeping, determined defending and some wasteful finishing. Dzeko and El Shaarawy both went close, while Lorenzo Pellegrini arguably should have added his name to the scoresheet early in the second half.

In the end it was Kolarov who did so, however, killing off the game in the dying moments with a clinical strike after substitute Diego Perotti had been denied at close range.

It was a fitting end to a fine team performance, as the side now look forward to another important clash next Sunday at Genoa.