Juventus strike early, often in win over Roma: Serie A
An early onslaught of goals gave Juventus a comfortable 4-1 win over Roma and old nemesis Zdenek Zeman on Saturday, extending the Turin club's unbeaten streak in Serie A to 45 matches.
Midfield maestro Andrea Pirlo gave Juve the lead with an expertly placed free kick in the 11th minute at Juventus Stadium, Arturo Vidal converted a penalty in the 16th and Alessandro Matri added another in the 19th for his first goal since February.
Pablo Osvaldo pulled one back for Roma with a penalty in the 69th and Sebastian Giovinco restored Juve's three-goal lead in the 90th.
"We tried to play our match from the start but Juventus was far better," said Zeman, whose accusations 14 years ago led to a doping investigation into Juventus.
Also, budget-strained AC Milan gave up the lead in a 1-1 draw at Parma, reviving the possibility that club president Silvio Berlusconi could remove manager Massimiliano Allegri.
Teenage striker Stephen El Shaarawy put Milan ahead in the 50th with his fourth goal in three matches but Daniele Galloppa equalized in the 66th with a free kick that passed through a porous Milan wall on a rainy night at the Ennio Tardini stadium.
At the top of the table, Juventus moved three points ahead of Napoli, which visits Sampdoria on Sunday. Roma is eight points back. Milan, which has just two wins in six matches, fell nine points behind.
Zeman's accusations 14 years ago during his first stint as Roma coach led to a disturbing doping investigation into Juventus.
In 2004, Juventus physician Riccardo Agricola was convicted of administering banned substances, including the hormone EPO, to Juventus players from 1994-98, and was handed a suspended sentence of 22 months. He was cleared on appeal a year later.
Former Juve players continue to exchange verbal jabs with Zeman, but the jabs on the pitch this time were almost all in one direction, as Juventus controlled from the start.
"I saw little today of what we've been training and trying to do," said Zeman, who was escorted off the pitch by several security guards. "Matches like these should teach us a lot."
On Tuesday, Juventus hosts Shakhtar Donetsk for its first Champions League home match in three years. Milan visits Zenit St. Petersburg on Wednesday.
However, Milan is still struggling to overcome the loss of an entire squad's worth of top players, including the likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Thiago Silva, who both bolted for Paris Saint-Germain in the off-season. Stalwarts Alessandro Nesta, Gennaro Gattuso and Clarence Seedorf also left.
"In the first half we controlled and there were no risks," Allegri said. "In the second half there wasn't as much space and we had trouble creating. I'm sorry, but unfortunately that's how football works. If you don't close out matches you leave yourself at risk. It's too bad. ... We really wanted to win today, because it's Berlusconi's birthday."
Allegri yelled at his players to move closer together in the wall for Galloppa's free kick, to no avail.
"The wall needs to be compact and stay still and shouldn't allow the ball to pass underneath it," Allegri said. "Especially on a night like this, when it's tough to kick it over the wall."
Parma is coached by former Milan standout Roberto Donadoni, who is among those being mentioned as a possible replacement for Allegri.
"At least 70 to 80 coaches around the world would like to sit on Milan's bench, but for the time being I'm here and I'm in complete synthesis with [Parma management]," Donadoni said. "Then we'll see what the future will bring."
Parma is one point behind Milan.
Milan controlled for much of the match but had trouble finding the target.
Newly signed Bojan Krkic, Kevin-Prince Boateng and El Shaarawy were among the most active players for the Rossoneri.
Bojan, in particular, made a big impact. The Spanish forward placed a long shot just over the bar in the 43rd, then provided the cross that led to El Shaarawy's goal, with the 19-year-old then dribbling by a defender and scoring with an angled shot.
In the 52nd, Bojan set up Boateng behind the defence with an excellent vertical pass but the midfielder headed wide, and Parma then began to push forward at the other end.