Second-place Roma beats Atalanta 3-1 in Serie A
MILAN (AP) — Roma kept up the pressure on Serie A leader Juventus with a comfortable 3-1 win against Atalanta on Saturday which saw the capital side equal the club record number of victories in a season.
Rodrigo Taddei, Adem Ljajic and Gervinho scored to help Roma to its 24th league win of the season, matching the record by Luciano Spalletti’s side in 2007-08 and achieved again under Claudio Ranieri two years later.
Giulio Migliaccio headed in a consolation for Atalanta.
Roma moved provisionally five points behind Juventus, which visits Udinese on Monday.
Ljajic had played just 25 minutes in the past six matches but the Serbia striker started, with Mattia Destro, Alessandro Florenzi and Miralem Pjanic all suspended. He hit the post as well as scoring and providing an assist.
“I haven’t played a lot recently but that’s football,” Ljajic said. “The coach decides. I’m always ready and once again I gave my utmost to help my teammates. It went well.
“We gave an important sign today. We played well and we won. We’ll watch the game on Monday and hope for the best. Unfortunately it doesn’t depend on us, it depends on them. We’ll do our part and we’ll see.”
Atalanta remained in eighth place following a second successive defeat as it lost ground in the race for a Europa League place.
Earlier, Sassuolo picked up a vital point in its fight against relegation as it drew 1-1 at home to fellow struggler Cagliari.
Taddei gave Roma the lead in the 13th minute when Dodo hooked the ball back off the byline for Francesco Totti but it fell for the Brazilian, who fired in powerfully from the edge of the box.
Totti was looking dangerous and went close several times to scoring the goal which would have seen him draw level with former Juventus star Alessandro Del Piero’s 289 goals.
The Italian World Cup winner provided Ljajic with Roma’s second goal with a delightful chip over the defense to Daniele De Rossi, who controlled the ball before cutting back for the Serbian.
Atalanta almost got back into the game early in the second half but De Rossi blocked German Denis’ shot with goalkeeper Morgan De Sanctis grounded.
Gervinho sealed the result shortly after the hour mark after being put through by Ljajic following a backheel flick by Totti.
Ljajic also hit the right post in an impressive performance and he was applauded off the pitch when he was substituted three minutes from time.
Atalanta pulled one back 12 minutes from time when Migliaccio powerfully headed Yohan Benalouane’s cross into the bottom left corner.
Cagliari had a new coach after Ivo Pulga replaced the sacked Diego Lopez but Sassuolo was full of confidence after last week’s surprise win at in-form Atalanta, and took the lead nine minutes from halftime.
Simone Zaza escaped Cagliari defender Davide Astori to run onto Nicola Sansone’s through ball and fire in under the crossbar.
Cagliari levelled when Luca Antei tripped Víctor Ibarbo in the opening minute of the second half and Agim Ibraimi converted the resulting penalty.
Sassuolo moved provisionally level on points with Livorno in the bottom three, two points off safety. It remained eight points behind Cagliari.