Captain Francesco Totti scored on his return from a month-long injury lay-off as Roma scraped a 3-2 win over Udinese to reduce the gap on leaders Juventus to 14 points on Monday
Earlier, third-placed Napoli had pulled level on points with Roma thanks to a 90th minute strike from Gonzalo Hugauin which secured the points away to Torino.
However Roma restored their three-point cushion on Rafael Benitez’s side after a tense finale caused by Dusan Basta’s 80th minute header for the visitors.
Roma have reinforced their grip on second place, synonymous with the last automatic Champions League qualifying spot, but despite having a game in hand the Giallorossi remain 14 points adrift of Juventus, who had Andrea Pirlo to thank for an 89th minute winner in a tense finale at Genoa on Sunday.
“It was nice to score but the important thing was to win this game to make sure we stay in front of Napoli,” Totti told Sky Sport Italia after sixth goal of the season.
“We have to defend second place.”
Coach Garcia, however, added: “That was the most difficult encounter at home in 15 or 16 games. We got the points but we made life difficult for ourselves.”
Totti enjoyed a dream return to the Olympic Stadium when he picked up the rebound from Gervinho’s close range shot following Miralem Pjanic’s delivery and drilled past teenage goalkeeper Simone Scuffet.
Gervinho finally looked back to top form and eight minutes later a run down the right flank allowed the Ivorian to square for Mattia Destro and although he had to round Scuffet the Italian found the net with a low angled strike.
The visitors hit back six minutes into the second half when Totti was dispossessed in midfield and the ball found Giampiero Pinzi, who took a few touches before beating De Sanctis with a smart angled strike from the edge of the area.
Vaseilos Torosidis gave Roma a much-needed cushion when he carried the ball through Udinese’s defence before beating the keeper at his near post.
Roma looked to be heading for a comfortable win, but from a corner in the 80th minute De Sanctis had to pull off a one-handed save before seeing Basta’s shot from the rebound fly by him and into the net.