Gervinho helps Roma edge Napoli in Cup semi

Côte d'Ivoire international Gervinho hit a fine brace including a late winner to put Roma within sight of their second successive Coppa Italia final thanks to a 3-2 victory over Napoli in the first leg of the sides' semi-final.

Superb individual goals from Gervinho and Dutchman Kevin Strootman, the latter firing a 25-metre screamer past Pepe Reina just after the half hour, had given Roma -- beaten in last year's final by city rivals Lazio -- a 2-0 half-time lead at a rain-hit Olympic Stadium.

However Napoli were back in contention when a shot from Gonzalo Higuain took a deflection to beat Roma 'keeper Morgan De Sanctis, the latter being credited with the own goal, just after the restart.

As the visitors grew in confidence, Rafael Benitez's side were rewarded for their efforts just after the hour thanks to a superb Dries Mertens leveller.

Mertens had replaced Marek Hamsik only minutes earlier and after picking up a loose ball following a challange on Higuain on the edge of the area, the Belgian rode two tackles to beat De Sanctis with a dipping shot on 70 minutes.

Napoli, Cup winners in 2012, appeared to have settled for a draw that would have boosted their chances in next week's second leg at the San Paolo.

However Gervinho, easily Roma's best player on the night, produced another fine piece of individual skill in the Napoli area to beat Reina from the right of goal for an 88th minute winner.