Soccer

Gervinho helps Roma beat Napoli in first leg of Cup semis

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The Canadian Press
2/5/2014 5:26:24 PM
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ROME -- Roma beat Napoli 3-2 in the first leg of their Italian Cup semifinal on Wednesday thanks to a double from Ivory Coast forward Gervinho.

The return match will take place next Wednesday. Udinese leads Fiorentina 2-1 in the other semifinal.

Napoli staged a second-half comeback from two goals down after Gervinho's opener and a stunning strike from Kevin Strootman.

But Gervinho scored the winner two minutes from time.

"In our league, ninety per cent of the matches are played defensively but it's good to play like this against strong players," Roma midfielder Daniele De Rossi said. "It's good to see games like this, they're an advert for football.

"It wasn't good for us mentally to concede a minute after the restart. But after they made it 2-2, we responded brilliantly. Another good game like tonight's awaits us in Naples."

Napoli started the brighter but it was Roma which broke the deadlock in the 13th minute when Gervinho ran onto a delightful through-ball from Francesco Totti and rounded goalkeeper Pepe Reina before firing home from three meters.

Strootman doubled Roma's lead in the 32nd with a stunning rocket into the top right corner from more than 30 metres.

Gonzalo Higuain pulled one back for Napoli a minute into the second half as the ball deflected off Mehdi Benatia and goalkeeper Morgan De Sanctis got his hands to it but could not prevent it from going in. It was the former Real Madrid striker's 16th of the season.

Substitute Dries Mertens levelled in the 70th, four minutes after coming off the bench, when he burst between two defenders and blasted an effort past De Sanctis.

Gervinho secured the match for Roma when he collected Alessandro Florenzi's pass and coolly slotted into the near side of goal.

Udinese, which has eliminated both Milan teams, beat Fiorentina on Tuesday in a match which saw three wonderful goals.

Antonio Di Natale broke the deadlock in the 36th minute with his first goal from open play since September but Juan Manuel Vargas smashed an effort in off the underside of the crossbar a minute from halftime.

Substitute Luis Muriel scored a long-range winner for Udinese, which is hoping to reach the final for the first time since 1922.

Both sides eliminated illustrious teams in the previous round. Napoli knocked out holder Lazio, while Roma defeated Juventus, which is on course for a third successive league title.

Gervinho (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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