Fri, Sep 25, 2015 - Page 18 News List

Inter stretch lead as Juve, Roma upset

TACTICS BACKFIRE:Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri rested goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon for their game against Frosinone and the visitors scored a late goal to draw

AFP, MILAN, Italy

Inter midfielder Felipe Melo celebrates after scoring against Hellas Verona at the San Siro in Milan, Italy, on Wednesday.

Photo: EPA

Inter rolled back the years to stretch their lead at the top of Serie A on Wednesday on a night of upsets that saw champions Juventus held by Frosinone and AS Roma lose to UC Sampdoria.

Inter’s blistering start to the season has left many commentators believing they have already stolen a march on four-time consecutive champions Juventus in the fight for this season’s scudetto.

Only five matches into the campaign, those predictions look to be ringing true.

Brazilian Felipe Melo rose to head the only goal of the game against Hellas Verona 11 minutes after the restart as Inter held on to claim their fifth consecutive win — the first time the Nerazzurri have achieved such a feat since the start of the 1966-1967 season.

Inter owner and president Erick Thohir was at the San Siro and said: “I’m delighted ... winning our opening five games is incredible, but we have many other matches to win so we’ll go one step at a time.”

His thoughts were echoed by coach Roberto Mancini, who when asked about their status as title favorites quipped: “Maybe we are, until our next league match.”

Inter are away to high-flying ACF Fiorentina this weekend.

“The first games of the season are all difficult, you can [tell] that by the fact other teams that should be fighting for the title are struggling,” Mancini said. “Teams get better as each game passes. It’s one step at a time.”

Mancini’s men sit top with a three-point lead on Fiorentina, who saw Jakub Blaszczykowski and Nikola Kalinic score one apiece in 11 late-second-half minutes to secure a 2-0 home win over outclassed Bologna.

US Sassuolo are only a point further adrift in third, thanks to the Tuscans’ shock 1-0 win over US Citta di Palermo, courtesy of Sergio Floccari’s stunning first-half effort for the visitors.

At the Stadio Olimpico in Rome, SS Lazio made amends for their 5-0 humiliation against SSC Napoli on Sunday with a deserved 2-0 win over Genoa that saw Filip Djordjevic, with a diving header, and Brazilian Felipe Anderson, with a superb, curling effort, wrap up the points for Stefano Pioli’s men.

Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri rested a number of regulars, including goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon, for the visit of Frosinone.

However, the Italian’s tactics ultimately backfired after Leonardo Blanchard headed home from a corner in injury time to level Simone Zaza’s strike minutes after the restart.

It gave the new boys their first point of the season, and coach Roberto Stellone was satisfied.

“For an ex-Torino player, it’s a particularly pleasing result,” he said.

Juventus claimed only one point from their opening three games, their worst start to a campaign in several decades, before ending their drought at Genoa on Sunday.

This latest setback has left last season’s beaten Champions League finalists in 10th place, eight points adrift of Inter.

“We can’t be conceding corners to a team like Frosinone at this stage of the game,” Allegri said. “We just didn’t manage this game well and paid the price for naive errors. We should have put the game beyond doubt well before then.”

Scudetto rivals Roma are faring slightly better, but coach Rudi Garcia was left ruing a massive defensive blunder as the Giallorossi looked to be heading for a well-deserved point at the Stadio Luigi Ferraris.

Roma bossed the opening half and Sampdoria broke the deadlock against the run of play four minutes after the restart when Eder stepped up to fire a free-kick just inside Morgan de Sanctis’ near post.

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