Juventus nears title; Totti puts on a show for the ages
ABS-CBN Sports on Apr 21, 2016 10:01 AM
(AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
ANDREW DAMPF, AP Sports Writer
ROME (AP) — Juventus moved closer to a fifth straight title and 39-year-old Francesco Totti put on a show that belied his age in Serie A on Wednesday.
Paulo Dybala scored twice for Juventus in a 3-0 win over 10-man Lazio and Totti came off the bench to score two late goals in Roma's 3-2 comeback win over Torino.
Mario Madzukic opened the scoring for Juventus with his third goal in four matches by redirecting a cross within the box from Paul Pogba near the end of the first half.
Then after Lazio right back Patric was sent off with his second yellow card, Dybala converted a penalty and finished off a counterattack for his 16th goal of the season.
With four matches remaining, Juventus restored its nine-point lead over Napoli, which routed Bologna 6-0 on Tuesday.
"We knew that by winning this game we would have nearly 90 percent of the title," Dybala said. "We're very close."
It was the first loss for new Lazio coach Simone Inzaghi, who won his first two matches in charge.
In Rome, Totti struck a difficult equalizer just seconds after coming on late in the second half, and then converted a penalty for the winner — a performance that will surely spark more heated discussion over his disputed future with the only club he's played for.
Totti's contract is due to expire at the end of the season and he apparently has not been offered an extension yet.
Totti's performance left some fans so emotional they cried, and teammate Alessandro Florenzi likened it to a starring role in "a great film."
"He came on with a lot of aggression," Florenzi said. "He's a champion."
The victory moved third-place Roma back within five points of Napoli and opened up a seven-point lead over Inter Milan in the race for the final Champions League spot.
Inter was beaten 1-0 at Genoa.
Andrea Belotti had given Torino the lead with a penalty after getting held by Kostas Manolas and the Greece international redeemed himself by equalizing in the 65th, rising above a crowd of players to meet a corner with a header.
Josef Martinez seemed to have scored the winner for Torino after being left unmarked by Maicon to redirect a cross at the far post but Totti then came on and turned the match around.
Totti's first goal was a work of art.
A free kick from Miralem Pjanic was deflected toward Totti by the far post and the Roma captain rolled back the years by spreading his legs apart in midair before flicking the ball in.
Roma was then awarded a penalty for a questionable handball following a cross from Diego Perotti. Daniele Padelli got a hand to Totti's spot kick - but it was too powerful for the goalkeeper to keep out.
The penalty was Totti's 303rd goal for Roma in all competitions and his third in the last two matches. Totti also scored the equalizer in a 3-3 draw at Atalanta on Sunday — after which there was reportedly a verbal altercation between the longtime captain and Roma coach Luciano Spalletti.
Totti required only 22 seconds after he came on to score — a record in Serie A this season. His 247 Serie A goals stand second on the all-time list to the 274 scored by Silvio Piola, who played from 1929-54.
In Genoa, Sebestian De Maio scored the only goal in the 77th, firing in near the far post to conclude a clever move that included headed passes from Ezequiel Munoz and Panagiotis Tachtsidis.
Fiorentina's troubles in the second half of the season continued in a 2-1 loss at Udinese, which got an early goal from Duvan Zapata and a winner from Cyril Thereau after Mauro Zarate's equalizer.
Elsewhere, it was: Chievo Verona 5, Frosinone 1; Empoli 1, Hellas Verona 0; and Palermo 2, Atalanta 2.
Also, Sassuolo was held to a 0-0 draw by 10-man Sampdoria after failing to convert a late penalty.
Sampdoria goalkeeper Emiliano Viviano leapt to his left to stop Domenico Berardi's low spot-kick one minute from the end. Viviano also made several other impressive saves after defender Andrea Ranocchia was sent off with two yellow cards midway through the first half.
On Thursday, new AC Milan coach Cristian Brocchi aims to make it two wins from two matches as the Rossoneri host relegation-threatened Carpi.
Andrew Dampf on Twitter: www.twitter.com/asdampf