MILAN (AP) Roma was thwarted time and time again by Empoli goalkeeper Lukasz Skorupski, who is on loan from the capital club, as it was held 0-0 on Sunday and failed to keep pace with Serie A leader Juventus.
The Poland international’s heroics continued throughout the match and when he was finally beaten, late on, Manuel Pasqual was on hand to clear Dzeko’s header off the line.
Skorupski also tipped Stephan El Shaarawy’s volley over the bar in stoppage time.
If Empoli manages to escape relegation it will owe a great deal to Skorupski and his defense, as Giovanni Martusciello’s side has scored just two goals in 11 matches this season – the fewest in Europe’s top five leagues.
Roma is four points behind Juventus, which beat Napoli 2-1 on Saturday. Empoli moved level with 17th-placed Pescara.
AC Milan is emerging as a serious challenger for the title and a fourth successive home win saw it leapfrog Napoli into third place, five points behind Juventus.
And it again had teenage goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma to thank.
While fellow youngster Manuel Locatelli stole the headlines in last weekend’s win over Juventus, Donnarumma pulled off several stunning saves to protect his side’s lead.
The 17-year-old kept Ledian Memushaj’s strike from going into the top corner shortly after the hour with a flying one-handed save and was again at full stretch to deny Gianluca Caprari late on.
Giacomo Bonaventura scored the only goal of the match, four minutes into the second half, placing a cheeky free kick under the wall as it jumped and into the bottom left corner.
Milan also hit the woodwork in each half, through a M’Baye Niang header and a Carlos Bacca close-range strike.
Inter Milan coach Frank de Boer’s position remains perilous as his side fell to a fourth defeat in five league matches.
Fabio Quagliarella scored the only goal of an entertaining match on the stroke of halftime, shooting into the bottom right corner after Karol Linetty rolled the ball across the area.
Both sides hit the woodwork and had several chances, with Rodrigo Palacio going closest for Inter in the final minute. His effort crashed off the underside of the crossbar and landed just the wrong side of the goalline for the Nerazzurri.
Sampdoria moved level with 11th-placed Inter.
Bottom club Crotone recorded its first ever Serie A victory although there was an unseemly spat over who was to take the penalty that led to the first goal.
Lucas Castro brought down Djamel Mesbah on the stroke of halftime and Marcello Trotta converted, after arguing with Diego Falcinelli over who was to take the spot kick and shoving each other.
Falcinelli got on the scoresheet in stoppage time with a powerful strike to seal the result and spark rapturous celebrations in the stadium.
Crotone moved onto five points, two from safety.
Lazio is just a point behind Milan after a hard-fought 2-1 victory over Sassuolo.
The capital side broke the deadlock in controversial circumstances five minutes into the second half. Sassuolo goalkeeper Andrea Consigli palmed away Keita Balde Diao’s cross but it ricocheted into the back of the net off Senad Lulic, who was in an offside position.
Lazio doubled its lead four minutes later when Stefan Radu flicked on a corner for Ciro Immobile to volley in at the back post.
Gregoire Defrel got Sassuolo back in the match two minutes later but it couldn’t find the equalizer.
Earlier, Atalanta comfortably beat Genoa 3-0 with a first-half double from Jasmin Kurtic and a late goal from Papu Gomez.