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Roma must shake old habits

Roma
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ESPN FC  By ESPN staff

Radja Nainggolan Roma's 'superhero' for overcoming injury - Di Francesco

Radja Nainggolan shoots on goal in Roma's Serie A match against Lazio on Saturday.
Radja Nainggolan returned from injury to lead Roma to a win over Lazio.

Radja Nainggolan was hailed as "a superhero" by Roma boss Eusebio Di Francesco after leading his side to a 2-1 derby win over Lazio on Saturday.

Nainggolan's second-half strike was the difference as Roma moved above their opponents to jump to third place in Serie A, and Di Francesco praised his efforts just to appear in the game after overcoming an injury.

"Nainggolan really did have a groin strain eight days ago, so he showed an incredible ability to push through pain," the manager said. "They call him Ninja, but he's more like a superhero!"

Diego Perotti also scored, but he gave credit to Nainggolan's quick recovery as well.

"I don't know what Radja's body is made of, but every time he gets injured, he just recovers so quickly," Perotti said. "I think we need to have some scientific tests, because in my view he's not human!"

Nainggolan's injury caused him to pull out of the Belgium squad this week, but he said he had no intention of missing the derby.

"We showed great spirit, we are in a wonderful period of form and must continue like this," Nainggolan said. "I always want to help my teammates and I gave my all to be ready to play, as this is the kind of match you cannot miss.

"Scoring goals doesn't matter to me, it's about getting the team to win, doing better than last season and we are on the right track."

Though Roma are now just five points back of leaders Napoli, who have played a game more, and a single point behind Juventus in second place, Di Francesco said he was happy to be flying under the radar in the title race.

"This is a Roma side that is improving, with great belief, focusing already on the next Champions League game with Atletico Madrid," he said. "We want to stay close to the top for as long as possible and I think we've got the right mentality to achieve that.

"Nobody put us among the list of contenders for the Scudetto and I'm happy to keep it that way."

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