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Rediff News  All News  » Sports » Serie A: Juventus tighten grip on top spot, Totti saves Roma

Serie A: Juventus tighten grip on top spot, Totti saves Roma

April 17, 2016 20:20 IST


IMAGE: Paul Pogba of Juventus celebrates after scoring his team's second goal during the Serie A match against US Citta di Palermo. Photograph: Tullio M. Puglia/Getty Images

Juventus moved nine points clear at the top of Serie A after defeating Palermo 4-0 at home on Sunday and Francesco Totti bagged a dramatic late equaliser as AS Roma drew 3-3 at Atalanta.

With second-placed Napoli losing 2-0 at Inter Milan on Saturday, Juventus tightened their grip on the summit and took a major step towards a record fifth consecutive Italian title following goals from Sami Khedira, Paul Pogba, Juan Cuadrado and Simone Padoin.

Juve moved up to 79 points with five games to play, Napoli have 70 and Roma are third on 65.

Khedira controlled Pogba's lofted ball with his chest before flicking it past Stefano Sorrentino in the Palermo goal in the 10th minute.

Pogba added a second in the 70th minute, finishing at the back post after the visitors failed to deal with a Juve corner, before Cuadrado's superb individual effort and Padoin's late finish underlined the home side's dominance.

Davide Ballardini returned to the Palermo hot seat on Tuesday, their eighth managerial change of the season, but was unable to prompt a change in fortunes for the relegation-threatened outfit, who dropped to 19th place on 28 points.

Totti's future at Roma remains unresolved following a testing season and a strained relationship with coach Luciano Spalletti, but the 39-year-old demonstrated his enduring class with an 85th-minute equaliser in a thrilling six-goal draw at Atalanta.

Roma went 2-0 up inside the first half an hour after goals from Lucas Digne and Radja Nainggolan, before Marco D'Alessandro halved the deficit in the 33rd minute.

Roma old boy Marco Borriello came back to haunt his former club with his first goal for Atalanta as his excellent header evaded Wojciech Szczesny, and he fired the home side ahead when he converted Alejandro Gomez's cross in the 50th minute.

Totti had the final say as he hammered home Alessandro Florenzi's cut back for the 301st goal of his glittering career.

Spalletti was sent to the stands in the dying minutes of the draw, which left his side four points clear of fourth-placed Inter Milan in the race for the final Champions League qualifying berth.

"We often lose our heads," Spalletti told Mediaset Premium. “Totti’s goal doesn’t change anything for me. If he wants to be a player, he’ll be a player.
"The team still won nine games without him."

Elsewhere, Fiorentina consolidated their grip on fifth spot with a 3-1 over Sassuolo to go 10 points clear of AC Milan, who play at Sampdoria later on Sunday.

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