Dzeko still on top as Roma, Milan nudge Juventus
EDIN DZEKO (caricature) took his Serie A scoring lead to eight goals in nine games as Roma outclassed Palermo 4-1 to reclaim second spot and move to within two points off leaders Juventus yesterday.
Roma had dropped to third after AC Milan stunned champions Juventus 1-0 on Saturday when teenaged midfielder Manuel Locatelli beat Gianluigi Buffon with a second-half scorcher.
But Luciano Spalletti’s men had no problem joining fellow Scudetto hopefuls in capitalising on Juve’s rare slip, the Giallorossi wowing fans with a well-oiled attacking performance that kept them firmly in the title chase.
“You have to be prepared to seize the day, climb on board and secure the right result as we did tonight,” said Spalletti.
“But if anyone had a great result, it was Milan. They have the tools, beginning with their coach (Vincenzo Montella) to be able to challenge in this championship and they showed it.”
Juventus remain top but their second defeat of the campaign, after a 2-1 reverse to Inter Milan last month, has reduced their advantage to two points on Roma and AC Mi- lan. Fellow title hopefuls Napoli are back in the hunt after a cagey 2-1 win at basement side Crotone yesterday moved the 2016 runners-up to fourth, at only four points adrift. A lightning start at the Stadio Olimpico saw Stephan El Shaarawy, who hit a brace in a 3-3 Europa League draw against Austria Vienna in midweek, come close with a smashing right-foot volley from Dzeko’s pass. The hosts finally broke the deadlock on 31 minutes, Mohamed Salah bursting through to meet Dzeko’s flick and nutmeg Josip Posavec at the near post. Spalletti had replaced Jesus with Alessandro Florenzi at halftime, and on 68 minutes Dzeko pounced on the Italy midfielder’s delivery to beat Posavec with an unstoppable daisycutter. Palermo reduced arrears when Robin Quaison beat Szczesny with a deflected 25-yard drive 10 minutes from the end. But a Roma counter two minutes later saw El Shaarawy claim his third goal in two games when he collected Salah’s unselfish pass to beat Posavec on 82 minutes. – AFP