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Ranieri's Champions League ambitions dented by SPAL

AFP  |  Rome 

Claudio Ranieri's Roma fell to a shock 2-1 defeat at struggling SPAL on Saturday, missing a golden opportunity to close the gap on rivals and AC

are third, one point ahead of Inter, with Roma in fifth three points back in the battle for elite European football next season, ahead of Sunday's Milan derby.

Ranieri had won his first match after taking over from sacked -- 2-1 against Empoli -- but his side fell to their relegation-threatened hosts, leaving Roma's season in the balance after their elimination at the hands of and 3-0 beating by to city rivals

"I expected more. Our opponents were a team and we weren't," said Ranieri of Roma, who also lost the reverse fixture 2-0 in October.

"There's a plan in place if Roma get into the Champions League," he warned his players. If we don't, quite a few of these guys could change clubs.

"We lost to a team who earn less than us, who are more humble than us, more determined than us, who are up to their necks in it, and they showed all that today." -

Roma under threat -


Algerian international nodded SPAL ahead after 22 minutes, and Ranieri introduced 19-year-old rising star after the break to immediate effect.

ran on to a 53rd-minute Zaniolo through-ball and was fouled by Thiago Cionek in the area, before converted the penalty.

But seven minutes later scored the winner for SPAL from the spot following a foul by Roma defender

SPAL held on for just their sixth win of the season and first home victory since September, which moved them up to 15th place, five points above the drop zone.

Roma are now under threat from Atalanta, who are three points behind ahead of their game against bottom on Sunday.

Torino missed the chance to pull level on points with Ranieri's stuttering outfit when they fell to their first defeat in two months, 3-2 to lowly Bologna.

Bologna's scored both for and against his club. His sixth-minute own goal had put Torino ahead before substitute headed in the equaliser after half an hour in

Pulgar then scored from the penalty spot after 34 minute with adding a third after 65 minutes. pulled a goal back a minute from time for Torino, who drop out of the places.

Both teams finished with 10 men with Lyanco and both sent off late for two yellow cards. Sampdoria beat 5-3, with top scorer Fabio Quagliarella, 36, scoring his 21st goal of the season days after being recalled to the team.

Sampdoria are ninth, two points off the places with a further 10 points behind. Title-holders Juventus return to domestic duty against Genoa on Sunday, looking to build on their 18-point lead at the top.

Portuguese star will be rested for the game after his hat-trick fired Juventus into the quarter-finals. Second-placed Napoli Carlo host Udinese.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Sun, March 17 2019. 10:45 IST