Hart spoils Totti party, Lazio join scud­etto chase

The Sun (Malaysia) - - SPORTS -

ENG­LAND goal­keeper Joe Hart up­set the up­com­ing birth­day cel­e­bra­tions of Francesco Totti in a 3-1 win for Torino over Roma as ri­vals Lazio brazenly joined the scud­etto race yes­ter­day.

Ousted from Manch­ester City by Pep Guardi­ola last month, Hart joined un­fash­ion­able Serie A side Torino in a bid to main­tain his sta­tus as Eng­land’s No. 1shot­stop­per.

Hav­ing kept ‘Granata’ fans guess­ing dur­ing a few ner­vous dis­plays in re­cent weeks, the on­loan City ‘keeper was rock solid through­out at Torino’s Sta­dio Olimpico where the only blot on his re­port card was Totti’s 55th minute penalty for the vis­i­tors.

It marked Totti’s 250th goal in Serie A, but plans to count a Roma win among his 40th birth­day gifts to­day were dashed by a de­feat that moved Torino up to midtable, and left Lu­ciano Spal­letti’s Roma five points be­hind lead­ers Ju­ven­tus.

Roma were look­ing to re­ply to Juve’s cagey 1-0 win at Palermo on Satur­day.

But An­drea Belotti headed an eighth-minute opener past Wo­j­ciech Szczesny, and at the other end Hart ex­pertly thwarted Edin Dzeko three times in suc­ces­sion.

“Be­fore I took Hart I spoke to him to try and un­der­stand what kind of state of mind he would have here,” Torino coach Sin­isa Mi­ha­jlovic told Sky Sport min­utes af­ter they se­cured only their sec­ond win of the cam­paign.

“But I can say he’s a true gem of a guy, as well as be­ing an in­ter­na­tional goal­keeper who has given a lot of con­fi­dence to the team. I’m very happy with him.”

The Gial­lorossi heads dropped fur­ther when Iago Falque beat Szczesny from the spot on 53 min­utes.

Al­though Totti came off the bench to send Hart the wrong way from the penalty spot two min­utes later, hopes of a late fight­back were quashed when Falque’s de­flected shot flew over Szczesny half­way through the sec­ond pe­riod.

Spal­letti was fu­ri­ous: “Un­for­tu­nately, we are un­able to main­tain con­sis­tency in our du­els, in our game and in our at­tempts to help each other.

“There are far too many ups and downs.”

Roma’s sec­ond re­verse will prove costlier af­ter Keita Balde and Se­nad Lulic scored once in each half to se­cure a 2-0 win over Em­poli that moved Lazio up to fifth, be­hind Roma only on goals dif­fer­ence.

“I’m very happy, we’re lay­ing some good foun­da­tions,” said Lazio coach Sime­one In­za­ghi.

“With our fix­tures list, it was dif­fi­cult to take 10 points from five games.”

In­ter Mi­lan also cap­i­talised on Roma’s slip de­spite be­ing held 1-1 at the San Siro by Bologna.

In­ter’s bid for a fourth con­sec­u­tive win was hit when Mat­tia De­stro broke the dead­lock on 14 min­utes.

Ivan Perisic fired a su­perb vol­ley from Antonio Can­dreva’s de­liv­ery to level be­fore the in­ter­val.

But de­spite the late in­tro­duc­tion of for­mer San­tos for­ward Gabriel Bar­bosa, Frank De Boer’s men spurned the chance for a win that would have closed the gap on Juve to two points when An­drea Ranoc­chia sent a late, free header wide.

In­ter, nev­er­the­less, moved up to third at four points off the lead, three be­hind Napoli and one ahead of Roma, Lazio and sur­prise pack­ages Chievo and Bologna.

“We didn’t set­tle for at least 20 min­utes but we got steadily bet­ter,” De Boer told Pre­mium Sport.

“We cre­ated a lot of chances to win this game, and the team worked hard through­out the whole 90 min­utes. Over­all, I’m sat­is­fied.”

In yes­ter­day’s late game Car­los Bacca missed a late chance and AC Mi­lan saw last­gasp penalty claims waved away on their way to a score­less stale­mate at Fiorentina.

Mi­lan re­main un­beaten in three games and moved up to sixth at five points be­hind Juve.

Fiorentina, with a game in hand af­ter their fix­ture at Genoa was washed out two weeks ago, sit in 11th spot at a fur­ther two points be­hind. – AFP

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