Two first-half goals saved AS Roma's UEFA Cup campaign as they overturned a 1-0 first-leg deficit against Gaziantepspor to earn a place in tomorrow's fourth-round draw.
Roma took command in the early stages of the match and could have taken the lead as early as the second minute had Ibrahim Toraman not cleared Walter Samuel's goal-bound effort off the line. Gaziantepspor did force chances of their own and Zdravko Lazarov went close with a free-kick in the 16th minute.
Just as the Turkish visitors seemed to have found their feet, Roma struck. Brazilian midfield player Mancini beat the offside trap and collected Daniele De Rossi's superb through ball before coolly back-heeling for fellow countryman Emerson to tap into the empty net.
Gaziantepspor almost grabbed a crucial away goal in the 39th minute when Pelizzoli's clearance was intercepted by Jaziri but Lazarov's eventual lob went over the crossbar. But before the break it was Roma who went ahead on aggregate.
Striker John Carew sped down the left wing, leaving the Gaziantepspor defence dead for pace. His pull-back was met by Italian international Antonio Cassano, who had no problem side-footing the ball into the corner of Ömer Çatkiç's goal.
Gaziantepspor were forced to take the game to the Italians in the second half, leaving Roma content to sit back and concede possession, threatening their opponents on the counterattack. Substitute Marco Delvecchio did go close for Roma on 71 minutes but his header was well saved by Ömer.
Despite all their hard work it was not until the final minute that the visitors had their first clear-cut chance of the second half, substitute Sedat Agçay shooting into the side-netting with an angled shot.
Roma coach Fabio Capello admitted that it was a worrying night. "
Even though we did not run any big risks in the second half, we were always apprehensive because the score was still tight," he said. "I told the team before the game that we had to score two goals, which we did in the first half. Then at half-time I told the players that if we concede a goal we will have undone all the hard work we had done in the first half."
Gaziantepspor coach Nurullah Saglan said: "I am very disappointed. We played very well, especially in the second half, much better than we did in the first leg even."