Totti showing no signs of age as 40th birthday approaches
MILAN: It might be just days before his 40th birthday but Roma forward Francesco Totti is showing no signs of slowing down.
On Wednesday, Totti was handed his first start in almost exactly a year and he helped his side to a 4-0 win over newly-promoted Crotone.
Totti, who will celebrate his landmark birthday next Tuesday, did not get on the scoresheet himself but he lit up the Stadio Olimpico early in the second half with a splendid long-range pass for Roma's third of the night.
The former Italy international sent the ball with pinpoint accuracy to Edin Dzeko, who lifted it over the onrushing goalkeeper.
Stephan El Shaarawy and Mohamed Salah had netted in the first half and Dzeko doubled his tally in the 57th minute, shortly before Roma goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny saved Raffaele Palladino's penalty.
"You saw up front a change, in being more clinical — finishing off the chances the team creates," Roma coach Luciano Spalletti said.
"Totti is good physically. I knew the match would be difficult, that they would defend well, and he always manages to create something out of nothing. I want the team to absorb that from him, to use him as an example of anticipating plays."
Totti, who won the World Cup with Italy in 2006, has spent his whole career at Roma and is likely to retire when his contract expires at the end of the season.
Roma moved up to third, two points behind league leader Juventus and one below Napoli.
Here's what else happened in Serie A:
Juventus 4, Cagliari 0
Crisis, what crisis? Juventus bounced back with an emphatic 4-0 win over Cagliari to move back to the top of Serie A after Napoli could only draw at Genoa.
Juventus lost its perfect start to the season on Sunday as Inter Milan came from behind to win 2-1 — a result which came days after a goalless draw against Sevilla in the Champions League.
Massimiliano Allegri's side was clearly out for blood and had 10 shots on target in the first half, something which had not happened since the 2004-05 season.
"We're back at the top of the table, being behind is never nice," Allegri said. "We had a good reaction after the defeat at San Siro and the excessive criticism."
The opener came from an unlikely source as defender Daniele Rugani scored his first goal for Juventus in 22 appearances, tapping in the rebound after Marco Storari had denied Gonzalo Higuain with a stunning save.
Higuain doubled Juve's lead in similar cirumstances firing home after Storari had blocked Miralem Pjanic's effort.
Dani Alves also got his first goal in a Juventus jersey, six minutes from halftime, as he was left unmarked on the edge of the box to drive into the bottom left corner.
Cagliari defender Luca Ceppitelli turned into his own net to cap a miserable night for the visitors.
Pescara 0, Torino 0
Joe Hart almost cost his new side dearly, but nine-man Torino managed to scrape a point at Pescara.
Hart almost gifted Pescara the lead just before halftime when the England goalkeeper fumbled a simple Bryan Cristante cross and almost dropped it over the line before managing to recover in the nick of time.
Afriyie Acquah was sent off moments later following a second yellow card and Torino was forced to play the final 11 minutes with nine men after Giuseppe Vives was shown a straight red.
Incredibly, Torino almost won it but Andrea Belotti hit the post.
Pescara also hit the woodwork as it laid siege to Hart's goal.
Empoli 0, Inter Milan 2
Mauro Icardi did it again for Inter Milan with a first-half double to help the Nerazzurri to a third successive Serie A victory.
Icardi headed in Antonio Candreva's cross for his first in the 10th minute and beat the offside trap to run onto Joao Mario's through-ball in the 17th for his sixth of the season.
The Argentina forward has been involved in all seven of Inter's goals this season, setting up Ivan Perisic's winner against Juventus as well as scoring six in his past four league matches.
Simone Verdi netted an early contender for goal of the season to help Bologna beat Sampdoria 2-0 in a match which saw both sides reduced to 10 men.
The 24-year-old struck a sensational volley into the top right corner just before halftime.
Khouma Babacar also scored a delightful goal — a cheeky backheel flick — as Fiorentina fought back twice to salvage a 2-2 draw at Udinese.
Elsewhere, Chievo Verona moved up to fourth with a 2-1 victory over Sassuolo and Palermo won 1-0 at Atalanta.