Gilardino's brace sinks Roma's Champions League hopes

Gilardino's brace sinks Roma's Champions League hopesRome - Alberto Gilardino scored a brace Saturday as Fiorentina crushed 10-man Roma 4-1 in a Serie A match that weakened the Rome side's chances to play the next Champions League. Fiorentina moved up to fourth place and currently occupy the last available Champions League berth. Genoa, who play Sunday at demotion-threatend Bologna, trail one points adrift, while Roma lie six points behind Fiorentina with five game left.

At Florence's Artemio Franchi, Peruvian midfielder Juan Vargas drilled a smashing left footer into the lower right corner after six minutes to put the hosts ahead.

Roma's two best equalizing chances in the first half went begging through missed drives by Matteo Brighi, while Fiorentina complained for a penalty that could have been awarded when Marco Cassetti handled the ball on a Gilardino drive.

The return from the changing rooms was bitter for Roma as Gilardino on 47 minutes finished off a fast action with a great header past Brazil's Artur, who was filling for the injured compatriot Alexander Doni.

The young Montenegro forward Stevan Jovetic triggered the action with a classy volley that set up Franco Semioli on the right flank for a prompt cross that found Gila with no opposition for his header.

Brazilian Julio Baptista had an immediate change to level, but had his low shot blocked by defenders before Cassetti on 58 minutes hit the bar as he pounced on a loose ball inside the area.

Things got harder for Roma on 59 minutes with the dismissal of Chilean David Pizarro and Gila secured the win with a low flick on 67 minutes before a fourth goal by the just fielded Massimo Gobbi.

A consolation goal from Baptista settled the score with four minutes left.

Earlier Saturday, Gaetano D'Agostino's brace sealed Udinese's 2-1 win over hosts Chievo, who remained eight points above the relegation zone before the four teams they lead play respective games on Sunday.

Leaders Inter Milan close the weekend late Sunday at Napoli with a 10-point advantage on Juventus and AC Milan. (dpa)