AS Roma’s Italian forward Stephan el Shaarawy (C) controls the ball in front of middle Udinese’s Brazilian defender Caetano de Souza Santos Samir (R), Udinese’s Danish defender Jens Stryger (rear) and Udinese’s Swiss midfielder Valon Behrami during the Italian Serie A football match between AS Roma and Udinese on September 23, 2017 at the Olympic stadium in Rome. Vincenzo PINTO / AFP
Stephan El Shaarawy bagged a first-half brace as AS Roma overwhelmed Udinese 3-0 to secure a third straight Serie A win on Saturday.
Italian forward El Shaarawy scored twice after Edin Dzeko’s 12th-minute opener, as Roma move up to fifth in Serie A with 12 points from five games, and with a game in hand just three points behind leaders Napoli and Juventus who play later.
Luigi Delneri’s visitors were struggling from the outset at the Stadio Olympico with Dzeko on hand for the opener and his sixth goal of the season after Radja Nainggolan pushed his way through a porous Udinese defense.
Dzeko rolled in a cross for El Shaarawy’s first after half an hour with a blunder by Udinese’s Danish defender Jens Stryger Larsen giving the player nicknamed ‘The Little Pharaoh’ his second just before the break.
Diego Perotti had a chance to make it 4-0 late but fired his spot-kick off target with Stryger Larsen getting one back after his earlier misfortune beating the offside trap to score a consolation goal in the final minutes.
It was a confidence-boosing performance for Eusebio Di Francesco’s side ahead of their midweek Champions League trip to Qarabag in Azerbaijan.
But for Udinese the nightmare start to the season continued as they fell to a fifth defeat in six matches.
Champions Juventus and Napoli will be looking to make it six wins out of six in Serie A later Saturday.
Juventus host city rivals Torino in the highly-anticipated Turin derby as Napoli travel to struggling newcomers SPAL.