Mon, Mar 23, 2009 - Page 18 News List

LEGA CALCIO: Juve win to keep title hopes alive

AFP , ROME

Juventus’ Tiago Cardoso Mendes, left, fights for the ball with AS Roma’s John Arne Riise during their Serie A match on Saturday at the Olympic stadium in Rome.

PHOTO: AFP

Juventus beat injury-ravaged AS Roma 4-1 at Rome’s Stadio Olimpico on Saturday to keep alive their faint Serie A title hopes.

Vincenzo Iaquinta was the hero with a brace as second-placed Juve cut Inter lead at the top of the table to four points, ahead of the champions’ match against rock-bottom Reggina yesterday.

It was a fifth straight league win for Juventus whose belief in their title chances is growing week by week.

Their hosts have now won only two of their last eight league matches and this result will have hit their hopes of finishing fourth and claiming a place in next season’s Champions League.

Roma came into this game missing an entire team of players with seven injured and four suspended.

Their patchwork outfit saw the likes of Brazilian youngster Filipe, French winger Jeremy Menez and center-back Simone Loria make rare starts while Max Tonetto was played out of position at right midfield.

The first half was a dull affair until John Arne Riise escaped down the left past a napping Zdenek Grygera and crossed to Tonetto but his shot from close-range was blocked.

On 34 minutes Juventus went in front with a goal of sublime simplicity.

Sebastian Giovinco played a one-two with Christian Poulsen and then fed Iaqunita who cut inside Loria and curled a shot around Brazilian goalkeeper Doni.

Juve headed into the break in front but their lead lasted only three minutes after the restart.

Menez swung over a poor corner but it somehow found it’s way through to Loria in the middle of the box and his first time finish was crisp and precise.

It did not take long for Juventus to restore their lead, though, with a touch of fortune about it.

Grygera’s cross flicked off Riise’s head and looped up for Iaquinta to head home at the back post despite the attentions of Philippe Mexes.

Any hope of a Roma come-back took a severe blow midway through the second half when Olof Mellberg rose unopposed to head home an Alessandro Del Piero corner.

Czech veteran Pavel Nedved wrapped up the scoring a quarter of an hour from the end with a 20m volley into the bottom corner.

In the day’s other game a Michele Paolucci goal gave Catania a 1-0 home win over Lazio.

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