Roma are back in the hunt for the Serie A title following their 4-0 thrashing of champions Juventus, and coach Fabio Capello believes the victory can act as a springboard for success.
Olivier Dacourt opened the scoring on 13 minutes but Roma did not increassetheir lead until 8 minutes into the second half when Antonio Cassano was brought down in the box by Paolo Montero. Francesco Totti calmly converted the spot-kick before being brought down himself by Montero three minutes later. Referee Pierluigi Collina had little choice but to dismiss the Uruguayan.
Two goals from Cassano completed the rout and Juve’s misery was complete whenRoma goalkeeper Ivan Pelizzoli saved a penalty kick from David Trezeguet.
It was Roma’s biggest win over Juventus since 1931 and convinced Fabio Capello that Roma’s title charge has still got legs.
“This win is worth double… not just because of who we beat but also because it showed we’ve raised our level since January,” said Fabio Capello.
“This is the most important time of the year. Although there’s a long way to go in the championship, the games you play now set you up for the run-in. ”
‘They show whether you really are a challenger, especially those against your direct title rivals.”
Capello’s counterpart at Juve, Marcello Lippi believed Montero’s sending-off was the turning point.
“We were in the game until 2-0. We played a good match. We weren’t perfect, we lacked precision in front of goal but we were okay,” he said.
“But once we went down to 10 men it was all over. We didn’t have the tools to take the game to Roma.
“If there’s anyone here who thinks that by losing here we’ve given up on the title, he should think again. Juventus never gives up”.
Roma remain five points behind leaders Milan, who extended their winning run to seven games with a 2-1 victory over Perugia.
Milan had to wait until the 74th minute before finding the net thanks to a rare goal from Rui Costa. They increased their lead from the penalty spot through Andrea Pirlo, but suffered a nervous fnale once Salvatore Fresi had pulled one back from the penalty spot and Giuseppe Pancaro had been sent off.
Fourth-placed Internazionale fell further behind when they drew 2-2 with Sampdoria, despite twice taking the lead through Christian Vieri.
The meeting between cash-strapped duo, Parma and Lazio, ended in a 3-0 win for the vistors with Claudio Lopez scoring twice for Lazio.
Udinese stay seventh despite their 3-1 defeat at home against Bologna on Saturday.
At the other end of the table, Ancona are still searching for their first win after being edged out by the odd goal in three against Modena FC. Empoli improved their chances of staying up with a 1-0 win against Siena while Reggina and Brescia played out a goalless draw.