Smalling & Abraham lift Mourinho's Roma

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Chris Smalling of AS Roma celebrates with teammate Tammy Abraham after scoring goal 1-0 during the Serie A match between AS Roma and Spezia Calcio at Stadio Olimpico on December 13, 2021 in Rome, Italy.

Roma returned to winning ways in Serie A after back-to-back losses with a routine 2-0 victory over struggling Spezia at the Stadio Olimpico.

Setbacks against Bologna and title-chasing Inter Milan this month had left Roma 11 points adrift of the top four, with Jose Mourinho facing the first mini-crisis of his reign, having taken charge in the summer.

But any nerves were quickly calmed as English duo Chris Smalling and Tammy Abraham combined for the opener after seven minutes while Roger Ibanez made sure of the win before the hour mark.

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Chris Smalling of AS Roma fights for the ball with Rey Manaj of Spezia Calcio during the Serie A match between AS Roma and Spezia Calcio at Stadio Olimpico on December 13, 2021 in Rome, Italy.

A backpedalling Abraham headed Jordan Veretout's corner back towards goal, allowing an unmarked Smalling to nod beyond Spezia goalkeeper Ivan Provedel.

Spezia were undone from another set-piece 11 minutes after the restart when Ibanez headed home from a corner, with the visitors never really threatening an upset as they remain 17th, two points above the drop zone.

Felix Afena-Gyan had a goal chalked off in added-on time and salt was rubbed into the wound as the Roma substitute received a second yellow card and his marching orders for deliberate handball in the build-up, with Mourinho appearing livid on the touchline, but his side moved up to sixth after an otherwise trouble-free win.

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