Roma close in on leaders Juve with Cagliari rout

AP, MILAN, Italy

Tue, Apr 08, 2014 - Page 19

AS Roma moved within five points of Serie A leaders Juventus as Mattia Destro scored his first hat-trick in a 3-1 win at Cagliari on Sunday.

Destro’s treble not only bolstered Roma’s Scudetto hopes ahead of Juventus’ home match against relegation-threatened AS Livorno yesterday, but also reinforced his case for a place in Italy’s FIFA World Cup squad.

“A club which makes its mark on history is one which wins titles,” Roma coach Rudi Garcia said. “The race for first place is not over yet, but it doesn’t depend on us... The only thing we have in our hands is second spot and we will try to keep that position until the end of the season.”

It was Roma’s first win at Cagliari since 1995, excluding the 3-0 victory they were awarded last season when the Serie A game was postponed for safety reasons after Cagliari defied orders to play in an empty stadium.

Later on Sunday, Cagliari confirmed the sacking of manager Diego Lopez, who will be replaced by former coach Ivo Pulga.

Club president Massimo Cellino, who recently saw his bid to take over Leeds United thwarted by a court decision over unpaid tax on an imported yacht, said recent results had left him with no choice.

“I wanted to avoid this, but Lopez left me with no choice,” he said.

Pulga was coach of the Sardinian club from October 2012, when he replaced Massimo Ficcadenti, to June 30 last year, when he was replaced by Lopez.

Lopez was the second Serie A coach relieved of his duties on Sunday after relegation candidates Catania sacked Rolando Maran for the second time this season following a 2-1 reverse to Torino.

The win reignited the Granata’s European hopes and saw striker Ciro Immobile return to the top of the goal-scoring table after netting the game-winner, his 18th of the season

Catania remain bottom of the pile with four wins and 20 defeats from 32 games, seven points behind fourth-from-bottom Bologna, who are just above the drop zone.

Catania had replaced Maran with Gigi de Canio in October last year, only to recall him on Jan. 15.

Elsewhere in Serie A on Sunday, ACF Fiorentina kept up their charge to a Europa League spot with a 2-1 win over Udinese that put them fourth, while Parma also stayed on course for the European tournament after turning around a poor run of form to beat third-placed SSC Napoli 1-0.

The Crociati’s victory moved them level on points with fifth-placed Inter (50), but one spot behind on goal-difference, with the two sides occupying the final Europa League places.

“I’m happy for the lads who had a great game, full of suffering and sacrifice, given that we also had important players out,” Parma coach Roberto Donadoni said.

Two points behind Parma are SS Lazio, who took seventh place after a comfortable 2-0 win over UC Sampdoria, while eight-placed Atalanta BC lost momentum with a 2-0 loss at home to lowly US Sassuolo.