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Tue Sep 27 00:29:24 SAST 2016

Spalletti hails Salah as 'Pharaohs' rule Roma

AFP | 03 February, 2016 15:49
AS Roma's Mohamed Salah (L) falls after Leverkusen's Omer Toprak (unseen) commits a foul during their Champions League Group E soccer match at Olympic stadium in Rome, Italy, November 4, 2015.
Image by: ALESSANDRO BIANCHI / REUTERS

Roma coach Luciano Spalletti hailed the enthusiasm and clinical finishing of Mohamed Salah after a precious 2-0 league win over Sassuolo on Tuesday that had a particularly Egyptian flavour.

Egyptian international Salah put the visitors ahead with a "cracking" left-footed strike from the edge of the area after just 11 minutes in at the Mapei Stadium.

When Domenico Berardi missed an 88th-minute penalty for the hosts -- after Roma midfielder Radja Nainggolan was booked for a second time for a foul in the area -- Roma twisted the knife.

Four minutes later on-loan AC Milan striker Stephan El Shaarawy, an Italy international whose father is Egyptian, escaped his marker to meet Diego Perotti's cutback in the area to fire past Andrea Consigli.

It secured Roma's second consecutive win under Spalletti and the former Zenit St Petersburg handler had special praise for Salah: "He's a great kid who feeds on enthusiasm and through these results he will get even more.

"He scored a cracking goal and deserves all the credit."

"I'm happy with the goal, but mostly because it helped us to the win," said Salah, who has now hit six league goals this season.

Roma remain in fifth place and sit nine points behind leaders Napoli ahead of their trip to Lazio later Wednesday, when the remaining league fixtures will be played.

But Spalletti believes Tuesday's performance has injected fresh life into his embattled side's campaign only three weeks after the sacking of French coach Rudi Garcia.

"If we show the same spirit as we did tonight (Tuesday) we can recreate that buzz which, if transferred to the dressing room and around the club, could make for a great dynamic," added Spalletti, who steered Roma to successive Cup triumphs in his previous spell in charge of the club (2005-2009).

Salah may already be an integral part of Roma, who decided to buy the 23-year-old outright from Chelsea earlier this season, but El Shaarawy's arrival at the club has helped revive Roma's faint 'scudetto' hopes.

'Il Faraone' (The Pharaoh), as El Shaarawy is known in football circles, hit his maiden Roma goal in a 3-1 league win at home to Frosinone last weekend and the striker's second has boosted his bid to be recalled to Antonio Conte's national side ahead of this summer's Euro 2016 finals.

"I made no secret of the fact when I signed for Roma. It's one of my aims," said El Shaarawy, who joined the capital club on loan after playing at Ligue 1 side Monaco in the opening half of the season.

"The coach has backed me ever since I joined Roma and I really must thank him for that. I'm pleased I've made a positive start but I have to keep working hard."

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