Unbeaten leaders Juventus lit up Serie A by trouncing hapless AS Roma 4-0 to go three points clear on Sunday, but the dark side of Italian soccer reared its ugly head again when protesting Genoa fans demanded the players remove their shirts.
Arturo Vidal scored twice in the first eight minutes as rampant Juventus took advantage of a slipup by second-placed AC Milan, who needed a last-minute goal from Zlatan Ibrahimovic to snatch a 1-1 draw at home to Bologna.
The tussle at the top was overshadowed by events at relegation-threatened Genoa, where supporters, furious after seeing their team go 4-0 down at home to AC Siena, threw smoke bombs onto the pitch and caused the referee to halt the game.
Some ultras also climbed over the Perspex barrier around the pitch and demanded the players take off their shirts after chanting they were unfit to wear them.
Several players did so and the game restarted with Siena, who had retreated to the dressing room, eventually winning 4-1.
The scenes happened just a week after Italian soccer came together following the death of AS Livorno Calcio’s Piermario Morosini after a cardiac arrest on the pitch.
Vidal’s quick-fire brace had Roma floundering, the Chilean midfielder turning in Paolo De Ceglie’s low cross after four minutes and rifling in the second with an angled shot after Mirko Vucinic laid the ball into his path.
Embarrassingly outclassed, visitors Roma were 3-0 behind and reduced to 10 men after half an hour.
Goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg got the faintest of touches as Claudio Marchisio flicked the ball past him and went tumbling over, the referee ruling that the Dutchman was the last man and had to go.
Andrea Pirlo’s penalty was saved by replacement goalkeeper Gianluca Curci, but the Juventus playmaker followed up to score from the rebound.
Marchisio made it 4-0 early in the second half, before Juventus eased off.
“Our approach was fundamental. We approached this match like a great squad,” Juve manager Antonio Conte said. “This is another step forward, but we know that there are five matches remaining and they’re five finals ... We control our own destiny now.”
Juventus also clinched at least a top-two finish, meaning they have qualified directly for the Champions League — after finishing seventh the past two seasons.
“The club asked me to reach this goal and now it’s been realized, but we’re not aiming for minimum goals at this point,” Conte said.
Gaston Ramirez put Bologna ahead at the San Siro and Milan’s problems deepened when Daniele Bonera was sent off in the 82nd minute for a second bookable offense.
However, Bologna had lost their composure by then and Ibrahimovic leveled with his 24th Serie A goal of the season, scoring with a first-time shot after Urby Emanuelson’s cross found him at the far post.
Antonio Nocerino and Robinho were both close to last-gasp winners for Milan, who have taken only one point from their last two games.
Juventus, chasing their first scudetto since they were stripped of the 2005-2006 title in the Calciopoli match-fixing scandal, have 71 points from 33 games, while Milan have 68 with five matches each to play.
“No one thought we would get just a point from two home games, but now we have to get back to winning ways at home and after that we’ll see,” Milan coach Massimiliano Allegri said, referring to the 2-1 defeat by Fiorentina earlier this month.