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Football: Osvaldo winner stuns Fiorentina, boosts Roma, Milan

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Italy international Pablo Osvaldo headed an injury time goal to give Roma a precious 1-0 win away over Fiorentina and hand Serie A giants AC Milan a Champions League lifeline on Saturday.

Defending champions Juventus require just a point from their home fixture against Palermo on Sunday to secure a 29th title, meaning this weekend's fixtures were all about boosting European qualifying chances and, for the likes of Genoa, Siena and Pescara, avoiding relegation to Serie B.

Fiorentina hosted Aurelio Andreazzoli's side hoping for a win that would allow them to leapfrog Milan into third -- which offers qualification for next season's Champions League via a preliminary qualifying round.

But despite creating numerous chances, notably through Stefan Jovetic and David Pizarro, Vincenzo Montella's side were punished when Osvaldo was given space to send a glancing header past Emiliano Viviano in the dying seconds.

Roma remain in fifth and are now four points behind Udinese but are only three points behind Fiorentina with three games remaining.

More worrying for Fiorentina is the possibility of being distanced by AC Milan on Sunday when the Rossoneri host Torino at the San Siro in the hope of stretching their lead over Montella's side to four points.

Roma started positively and came close when captain Francesco Totti forced a fine save from Viviano in the opening minutes with a free kick.

Fiorentina replied through Jovetic, but the Montenegrin forward failed to get enough power behind his shot when he tested Roma 'keeper Bogdan Lobont with an angled drive.

The hosts eventually had the ball in the net thanks to Jovetic, but play had already been stopped following a mid-air collision between Gonzalo Rodriguez and Lobont, who was left dazed but able to continue.

Colombian Juan Cuadrado came close with an angled drive but Jovetic came even closer on 37 minutes when he pounced on a loose ball to force a superb reflex save from Lobont which came off the upright.

Lobont did not re-emerge after the break and his place was taken by Uruguayan Mauro Goicoechea.

Early in the second half Fiorentina had the momentum and in-form Adem Ljajic tested Goicoechea with a curling shot that went wide of the far post.

Ljajic then forced Goicoechea into action with a low shot from the edge of the area and, moments later, Pizarro saw a rasping drive shave the outside of the post.

Roma, however, remained a threat on the counter-attack and late in the second half Totti held the ball up well on the left and delivered a backheel for Federico Balzaretti which allowed the defender to set up Osvaldo.

The Argentine-born striker was in a great scoring position but, under pressure from the Fiorentina defence, he failed to get a proper shot away.

Osvaldo saw an ambitious shot go wide when other teammates were in a better scoring position, a mistake which almost proved costly when Pizarro unleashed a drive from 20 metres which smacked off Lobont's post.

Fiorentina, however, ultimately paid the price when Osvaldo was left on his own when Miralem Pjanic delivered a corner from the left which the striker directed past a well-beaten Viviano to hand the Giallorossi all three points.

jd/ps

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130504/football-osvaldo-winner-stuns-fiorentina-boosts-roma-milan