Roma fail to equal Spurs’ record

AP, MILAN, Italy

Tue, Nov 05, 2013 - Page 20

AS Roma failed to equal the European record of 11 straight league victories to start the season as a goal from former player Alessio Cerci saw them held to a 1-1 draw at Torino in Serie A on Sunday for their first dropped points of the campaign.

Rudi Garcia’s side had already set a Serie A record by winning their opening 10 matches, but were looking to equal the best start in any of the top five European leagues, set by English club Tottenham Hotspur in 1960-1961.

“What’s important is that the squad played with heart and quality, especially in the first half,” Garcia said. “I liked it that we tried to win right up until the end. This is football, we can’t win them all, but a draw away from home is not a negative result.”

Roma moved three points above Juventus and SSC Napoli, who play each other at the weekend.

Inter and newly promoted Hellas Verona were nine points behind after earlier wins against Udinese and Cagliari respectively.

Elsewhere, teenage forward Domenico Berardi scored a hat-trick to help US Sassuolo beat 10-man UC Sampdoria 4-3, while SS Lazio fell to a surprise 2-0 defeat at home to Genoa.

Roma took the lead in the 28th minute when Federico Balzaretti found Miralem Pjanic on the left side of the penalty area and he cut it back for Kevin Strootman to volley home.

Torino leveled shortly after the hour mark when Riccardo Meggiorini robbed the ball off Mehdi Benatia and crossed for Cerci to side-foot in from close range.

It was only the second goal Roma had conceded all season and their first in 743 minutes.

Meggiorini had gone close to the equalizer minutes earlier with a stunning strike which Roma goalkeeper Morgan de Sanctis had to dive at full stretch to save.

Earlier, Inter recorded a dominant 3-0 victory at Udinese.

Palacio broke the deadlock in the 25th minute when he headed in Saphir Taider’s free-kick and it got worse for Udinese four minutes later when Zeljko Brkic completely mistimed his exit and flapped haplessly at Esteban Cambiasso’s corner, allowing Andrea Ranocchia to volley in at the far post.

Fredy Guarin hit the post in the second half, before Ricardo Alvarez added a third in stoppage-time, slotting Palacio’s cross into an empty net.

“I saw the best Inter performance of the season, even considering the level of the opponents,” Inter coach Walter Mazzarri said. “We really wanted to come here and impose our game. I always try to instill that into my players, that we must not let ourselves be conditioned by whether we’re playing at home or not.”

Hellas Verona also dominated on their way to a sixth successive home victory, winning 2-1 against Cagliari, who have now lost three successive matches.

“This Verona side has to think only about working well as it is doing,” Verona coach Andrea Mandorlini said. “It’s right that the fans are dreaming, but we have to think about staying in this league.”

Luca Toni headed home a corner in the eighth minute to give Verona an early lead and the home side all but sealed the match 12 minutes into the second half when Bosko Jankovic played a one-two with Romulo, before curling into the far corner.

Daniele Conti volleyed in a consolation goal for Cagliari in stoppage-time.

In Rome, Lazio seemed in complete control in the first half and Genoa had goalkeeper Mattia Perin to thank for keeping them in the match with several crucial saves, including a spectacular stop to deny Miroslav Klose.

Juraj Kucka broke the deadlock on the hour mark with an angled drive and Genoa doubled their lead 10 minutes later when Alberto Gilardino converted a penalty following a Michael Ciani handball.

Newly promoted Sassuolo’s match at Sampdoria had already been deemed a relegation dogfight and the home side appeared to be in control after Nicola Pozzi had given them a first-half lead.

However, the match turned at the start of the second half. Berardi fired in the equalizer, before putting Sassulo in front from the penalty spot two minutes later after Andrea Costa had tripped the youngster. Costa was shown a second yellow card and dismissed.

Antonio Floro Flores appeared to have secured the match, but Samp leveled with goals from Eder and Lorenzo de Silvestri. It was not over, though, as Berardi secured Sassuolo’s second win of the season in the final minute, with another penalty after Shkodran Mustafi fouled Diego Farias.

In the lunchtime kickoff, Paulinho scored the only goal of the game in the 11th minute as AS Livorno beat 10-man Atalanta BC 1-0 to earn their first win in eight matches.

Atalanta were forced to play for nearly an hour a man short after Carlos Carmona was shown a second yellow card for a challenge on Ibrahima Mbaye.