Serie A round-up and results: Francesco Totti rides to AS Roma’s rescue as spot-kick sees off spirited Sampdoria
A round-up of all the results and match reports from this weekend’s action in Italy’s Serie A.
Totti holds nerve to fire inwinning penalty for Roma
Francesco Totti came off the bench to hit a late winner from the spot as AS Roma moved to within two points of leaders Juventus after a rain-interrupted 3-2 win over Sampdoria on Sunday.
“That was the first time I’ve ever felt afraid of taking a penalty,” Totti, 39, who is in his 24th and final season at the club, told Sky Sport minutes after being mobbed by teammates under the stadium’s popular Curva Sud end.
“You just can’t afford to miss under the Curva)!”
Roma looked to be heading for a difficult second half at the Stadio Olympico after Sampdoria surged to a 2-1 half-time lead when goals from Fabio Quagliarella and Luis Muriel cancelled out Mohammed Salah’s eighth-minute header for the hosts.
But Roma manager Luciano Spalletti was given extra time to consider his tactical options when officials delayed the restart by over 30 minutes to render the pitch playable again following a first-half deluge of rain and hailstones.
Totti replaced Diego Perotti and Edin Dzeko came on in place of Stephan El Shaarawy for the start of the second half, and the changes made an immediate impact.
After Kevin Strootman saw his drive palmed away by Emiliano Viviano, Totti set Dzeko up for a shot that forced Viviano to parry for a corner.
Two minutes later, Totti sent Dzeko through in the box and the Bosnian shimmied around Viviano before tapping home from close range to pull the hosts level.
Roma had the momentum, but Salah glanced a header wide and only the trailing foot of Viviano stopped Dzeko’s goalbound shot from crossing the line.
Roma looked all set for a share of the spoils until Dzeko made the most of a Milan Skriniar’s challenge in the area to win a penalty that Totti cooly slotted past Viviano.
Roma are now two points behind leaders and champions Juventus, who claimed their third successive win with a 3-1 defeat of Sassuolo on Saturday.
In Sunday’s late game Inter Milan had Mauro Icardi to thank for a second-half double that secured their first win of the season in a 2-1 defeat of new boys Pescara.
Joe Hart endured a miserable debut as Torino were beaten 2-1 at Atalanta.
Iago Falque had put Torino into a 54th-minute lead with a free-kick which sailed past the seemingly unsighted Atalanta goalkeeper Marco Sportiello.
But barely a minute later the England goalkeeper, who moved to Italy on transfer deadline day after losing his place at Manchester City, gifted Andrea Masiello an equaliser.
Hart came off his line to clear a corner only to misjudge the flight of the ball, overstretch and leave Masiello with a tap-in from six yards.
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He had the chance to make amends eight minutes from full-time after Atalanta were awarded a penalty, but Franck Kessie sent him the wrong way from the spot.
AC Milan’s tough start to the season continued as they crashed to a 1-0 defeat at home to Udinese thanks to a late goal from Stipe Perica.
The Croatian striker lashed in the winner with two minutes left from Emmanuel Badu’s cross.
There was still time for Carlos Bacca to salvage a point but his close-range header in stoppage time was saved by Orestis Karnezis.
Simone Verdi’s first goal for Bologna helped secure a 2-1 win over 10-man Cagliari.
The 24-year-old striker, a summer signing from AC Milan, opened his account with a 25-yard free-kick midway through the first half.
Cagliari keeper Marco Storari was sent off nine minutes after the interval for handling outside the area as Ladislav Krejci raced through on goal.
Federico Di Francesco added the second in the 74th minute when he tapped in a cross from Krejci, before Bruno Alves pulled one back with a free-kick seven minutes from the end for the Sardinians.
Stefan de Vrij earned Lazio a point from a 1-1 draw away to Chievo.
Alessandro Gamberini headed the hosts into a 51st-minute lead from a corner, but three minutes later De Vrij nodded in Keita’s cross to equalise.
Genoa’s match with Fiorentina was abandoned after 28 minutes, with the score goalless, due to a hailstorm.
* Press Association
Juventus 3 Sassuolo 1
Juventus: Higuian (5’, 10’), Pjanic (27’)
Sassuolo: Antei (33’)
Gonzalo Higuain hit a first-half double including a spectacular volley as Juventus warmed up for their Uefa Champions League opener against Sevilla with a comprehensive 3-1 win over Sassuolo.
Higuain got off the mark after just five minutes, the Argentine striker collecting Paulo Dybala’s pass on the counter to slam the ball past Andrea Consigli for his second goal of the campaign.
Higuain, who hit a Serie A record 36 goals for Napoli last season before his big-money move, scored his second five minutes later when he smashed a superb volley past Consigli following Sami Khedira’s header back into the middle of the area.
Juve were then 3-0 up by the 27th minute when Miralem Pjanic, signed from Roma in the close season, collected his own rebound to slam past Consigli from close range to score on his debut.
Although Gianluigi Buffon’s blunder at a Sassuolo corner allowed Luca Antei to poke home from close range, the Turin giants’ third win of the campaign was never in doubt.
Palermo 0 Napoli 3
Napoli: Hamsik 47’, Callejon 51’, 65’
Marek Hamsik overtook Diego Maradona’s 81-goal club tally and Jose Callejon struck twice as Napoli warmed up for their Uefa Champions League opener away to Dynamo Kiev with a convincing 3-0 win at Palermo.
After a balanced first half in which Poland international Arkadiusz Milik, twice, and Raul Albiol came close for the visitors, Maurizio Sarri’s men moved up a gear after the restart at the Renzo Barbera stadium.
A great ball down the left flank by Piotr Zielinski sent Faouzi Ghoulam on a run that saw Hamsik slam the Algerian’s cross in off the underside of the crossbar to hit his 82nd goal for the club.
Palermo then crumbled when Callejon struck twice in the space of 14 second-half minutes to wrap up the points.
Lorenzo Insigne, sporting a dashing new peroxide-blond hairstyle to go with his striking black beard, was the architect of Milik’s first-half chances.
And the Italy winger was to get his just rewards with an assist for Callejon on 51 minutes, the Spaniard crouching low to guide the ball in with his head past beaten ‘keeper Josip Posavec.
It was Callejon’s third goal of the season, but he got his fourth minutes later after collecting Zielinski’s ball to fire under a stunned Posavec.
Napoli, runners-up in Serie A last season when former striker Gonzalo Higuain hit a new league record of 36 goals before joining Juventus, return to Europe’s premier club competition for the first time since the 2013/2014 season.
• Juventus 3-1 Sassuolo
• Palermo 0-3 Napoli
• Bologna 2-1 Cagliari
• AC Milan 0-1 Udinese
• AS Roma 3-2 Sampdoria
• Atalanta 2-1 Torino
• Chievo 1-1 Lazio
• Genoa v Fiorentina SUSPENDED
• Pescara 1-2 Inter Milan
• Empoli 2-1 Crotone
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Published: September 10, 2016 04:00 AM