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El Shaarawy dazzles as Roma thrash Empoli

The Pharaoh hit a brace as Roma continued their push for a place in next season's Champions League with a 3-1 win over Empoli on Saturday.

El Shaarawy has been a revelation for Roma since joining

AS Roma's Stephan El Shaarawy scored twice in a 3-1 victory at Empoli that took them up to third place in Serie A on Saturday and extended their winning streak to six league matches.

Roma have had an upturn in fortunes since Luciano Spalletti replaced Rudi Garcia as coach in mid-January and the win takes them to 53 points, one above Fiorentina, four behind Napoli and within five of Juventus, who have all yet to play this weekend.

As well as transforming morale at Roma, who had won one game in 10 in all competitions before his arrival, Spalletti can take credit for signing El Shaarawy on loan from AC Milan, with the Italy forward making an encouraging early impact.

Luciano Spalletti looks on from the bench
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Luciano Spalletti looks on from the benchANDREAS SOLAROAFP

The 23-year-old opened the scoring in the fifth minute by curling in a delicious right-foot effort from 25 metres before Empoli equalised through a bizarre Roma own goal.

Visiting goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny's punched clearance rebounded off team mate Ervin Zukanovic's face into the net, flooring the Roma defender in the process.

Miralem Pjanic restored Roma's lead with a thumping low effort, before El Shaarawy guaranteed an away victory in the 74th minute when Empoli goalkeeper Lukasz Skorupski could only touch Mohamed Salah's strike into his path.

Stephan El Shaarawy scores his second of the night
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Stephan El Shaarawy scores his second of the nightANDREAS SOLAROAFP

Empoli were reduced to 10 men when Mario Rui was shown a second yellow card in the fourth minute of stoppage time as the hosts remained in mid-table on 34 points without a win in eight.

“The players' minds are vital, so if you make them understand and motivate them mentally you can have instant results”, Spalletti told Mediaset Premium.

Elsewhere in Italy

AC Milan extended their unbeaten run to 11 games in all competitions by beating Torino 1-0 at the San Siro. Luca Antonelli scored just before halftime with a close-range effort to leave Milan sixth on 47 points, one behind neighbours Inter Milan, who visit Juve on Sunday.