Juventus wins 2-0 at Atalanta; Totti sets record
Rome: Juventus won 2-0 at Atalanta to stay top at the Italian league’s midpoint and Roma captain Francesco Totti sealed his place in the Serie A record book with two early goals in a 5-1 win over Cesena on Saturday.
Juventus hit the woodwork twice but struggled to find the target until Stephan Lichsteiner crouched down to head in a perfect pass from Andrea Pirlo in the 55th minute. Second-half substitute Emanuele Giaccherini then doubled the lead in the 81st with a volley after slipping through Atalanta’s offside trap.
The victory moved Juventus four points clear of AC Milan, which visits last-place Novara on Sunday.
Earlier, with his 211th goal for Roma in Serie A, Totti broke 1950s AC Milan standout Gunnar Nordahl’s previous mark of 210 for the most goals with one club in the Italian league.
Totti put Roma ahead after 40 seconds at Stadio Olimpico and doubled the lead in the eighth, before Fabio Borini made it 3-0 a minute later.
Eder pulled one back for Cesena in the 58th but Juan restored Roma’s three-goal lead in the 62nd and Miralem Pjanic completed the rout in the 70th.
“This is what I’ve always wanted: To always wear the same jersey and to beat record after record,” said the 35-year-old Totti, who made his Serie A debut in 1993 at 16 and has played his entire career for his hometown club.
On the overall scoring list, Totti was fifth, trailing only Silvio Piola (274 goals), Nordahl (225), Giuseppe Meazza (216) and Jose Altafini (216).
“I dedicate these goals to my sister-in-law who recently gave birth and the victims of the Costa Concordia,” Totti added in a halftime TV interview, referring to the capsized cruise ship off the Tuscan coast.
Roma moved into sixth place, eight points behind Juventus.
It was Roma’s third consecutive league win and fourth straight in all competitions. The Giallorossi also have to complete a game with Catania that was suspended at 1-1 in the second half last weekend due to heavy rain.
Cesena remained stuck in the relegation zone, three points above the bottom.
Atalanta, which has a six-point penalty from a match-fixing and betting scandal, was 15th, five points above the relegation zone.
There were moments of tension between opposing fans immediately before kickoff at Bergamo’s Azzurri d’Italia Stadium, but it was all Juventus once the match started.
While Juventus remained undefeated, it may have lost a couple of players to injuries, with Claudio Marchisio exiting at halftime for a physical problem and winger Simone Pepe limping off grasping his right calf midway through the second half.
Earlier, Erik Lamela, a 19-year-old Argentine forward tapped by some as Totti’s possible successor, set up both of the captain’s goals.
First, Totti took a backheel pass from Lamela and fired inside the near post, then he collected a lob pass from the Argentine and scored with an expert volley, even though replays showed he was clearly offside.
Borini’s goal was the product of a defensive error, with Gianluca Comotto losing the ball to allow Leandro Greco to cross to the waiting Borini in front of the goal.
Cesena came out slightly more organized after the break and Eder slipped through Roma’s defense and dribbled by goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg to score into an empty net.
Totti then nearly completed a hat trick with a shot that was just wide on the hour, and Brazil defender Juan scored off a rebound two minutes later.
Totti exited to a standing ovation in the 65th and Pjanic converted a rebound of his own shot five minutes later as Cesena’s defense again lacked order.
Eder nearly had another goal in the 75th but Stekelenburg did well to stop the Brazilian as he attempted to dribble around the goalkeeper.
Totti has 266 goals in all competitions for Roma, although Juventus captain Alessandro Del Piero has 285 for the Italian record in that category.
“I feel good now,” said Totti, who had hinted he was thinking of quitting while he struggled this season. “I’m enjoying this splendid moment and I’ll continue to play as long as my body will allow me to do what I want, otherwise I’ll be the first to stop.”