- Associated Press - Tuesday, January 21, 2014

ROME (AP) - Gervinho scored a late winner as Roma beat league leader Juventus 1-0 in the Italian Cup quarterfinals on Tuesday.

The Ivory Coast forward acrobatically finished Kevin Strootman’s cross after a well-worked move with substitute Miralem Pjanic to line up a two-legged semifinal with either Napoli or Lazio.

It was a match between the top two sides in Serie A. Roma lost 3-0 in the league to Juventus earlier this month to slip eight points behind the two-time reigning league champion.

“It was a win we wanted at all costs,” Roma captain Francesco Totti said. “Today we showed that we are at the same level as a great Juve side.

“For me, there’s not all this distance between us and them. But it’s normal that everyone looks at the current table. We’re doing really well, but they’re going beyond the limits.”

It was also a matchup between the two clubs which have won competition the most times, with both boasting nine Italian Cup victories.

Roma, which lost last year’s final to bitter rival Lazio, started well and had two good opportunities inside the opening 11 minutes but first new signing Radja Nainggolan and then Alessandro Florenzi fired wide.

Juventus players and staff called furiously for a red card for Mehdi Benatia when he dragged down Sebastian Giovinco as the forward was attempting to race onto Andrea Pirlo’s long ball. However, Benatia escaped with a booking.

The home side went close to taking the lead 10 minutes from halftime when Maicon rolled a tantalizing ball across goal and past Juventus goalkeeper Marco Storari - but there was no Roma player on hand to tap it in.

Juventus had the ball in the back of the net in the opening minute of the second half but Federico Peluso’s header was ruled out as Mauricio Isla’s cross had already gone out of play.

“Maybe we were a bit too timid in the first half but I don’t remember us suffering particularly,” Juventus coach Antonio Conte said. “They scored when they had a good chance, while when it happened to us they ruled out the goal.”

Conte clearly felt the refereeing decisions had not gone Juve’s way, starting with Isla’s cross.

“The ball seemed in to me,” he said. “Also Benatia’s foul on Giovinco was that of the last man but we accept the referee’s decision. It’s disappointing to be knocked out of a competition, but I don’t have anything to reproach the lads for.”

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