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By Terry Daley
ROME, Jan 18 (Reuters) - AS Roma narrowed the gap on Serie A leaders Juventus to a provisional five points with a comfortable 3-0 win over lowly Livorno at the Olympic Stadium on Saturday.
Goals from Mattia Destro, Kevin Strootman and Adem Ljajic put Roma on 47 points, behind champions Juve, who host Sampdoria later on Saturday (1945 GMT), and opened a five-point gap over third-placed Napoli before their visit to Bologna on Sunday.
Rudi Garcia's Roma side, with captain Francesco Totti on the bench, were on top from the start with Destro opening the scoring after six minutes with an easy tap-in, although their Ivory Coast striker Gervinho looked offside in the build-up.
A close-range Strootman strike nine minutes before the break and Ljajic's first goal since November with 12 minutes left saw Roma confirm their superiority in a devastating display.
They also squandered a host of chances with Gervinho, not for the first time, the worst offender in front of goal. The forward missed a one-on-one with keeper Francesco Bardi and headed an almost unmissable chance wide before the break.
The Ivorian was also involved in the controversy surrounding the first goal when he looked to be in an offside position as he fluffed a backheel finish from Ljajic's cross, with the ball falling to Destro who finished in front of an empty net.
Roma have scored seven goals without reply in the league since a 3-0 defeat at Juve earlier this month.
"We forgot about the match in Turin straight away," Ljajic said. "You can see that we're playing just as well now as we were before that game."
Roma will hope Juve, who they meet in an Italian Cup quarter-final on Tuesday, slip up in the late game against a Sampdoria side rejuvenated by new coach Sinisa Mihajlovic. (Writing by Terry Daley; Editing by Josh Reich)