Roma beats Udinese 3–1 to return to top of Serie A
MILAN (AP) — Roma returned to the top of Serie A with a 3-1 win over Udinese on Wednesday, but there was more misery for Juventus as the four-time defending champion lost 1–0 at Sassuolo with defender Giorgio Chiellini sent off.
“Such a shameful first-half performance is unacceptable,” Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon said. “I am dismayed, as captain of this team. Being dominated so much by our opponents hurts my soul.”
Miralem Pjanic and Douglas Maicon gave Roma a comfortable advantage inside nine minutes. Gervinho secured the result in the second half before Cyril Thereau netted a consolation for Udinese.
Roma is two points above Inter Milan, as well as Napoli and Fiorentina, which also won in the midweek round.
Gonzalo Higuain scored again as Napoli beat Palermo 2–0, while Fiorentina triumphed by the same scoreline at Hellas Verona.
Roma visits Inter Milan on Saturday ahead of the capital derby against Lazio.
“The match against Inter is decisive to stretch our advantage in the standings, but it's early to talk about a title match,” Roma coach Rudi Garcia said.
Roma, which has finished runner-up to Juventus the past two seasons, is now 11 points ahead of Massimiliano Allegri's team.
“We're focusing on our path, Juventus will come back because it has a great squad and a top-level coach,” Garcia added.
Lazio was five points behind Roma—as was Sassuolo—after losing 2–1 at Atalanta as home coach Edy Reja secured his 100th top-flight victory. AC Milan beat Chievo Verona 1–0 for a second successive win.
Elsewhere, Frosinone beat fellow Serie A newcomers Carpi 2–1 with both sides having a player sent off, and Genoa snatched a 3–3 draw at Torino.
Roma was looking to move back top after Inter's 1–0 win at Bologna on Tuesday and it got off to the perfect start, taking the lead inside four minutes. Radja Nainggolan threaded the ball through to Maicon, who rolled across from the right for Pjanic to slot inside the near post from 10 yards.
Maicon got on the scoresheet himself just five minutes later after bursting down the right and cutting inside and Udinese goalkeeper Orestis Karnezis allowed the Brazil defender's effort to squirm between him and the post.
Gervinho added another shortly after the hour mark, for his fifth goal in as many matches.
Juventus had secured only its third league win of the season at the weekend, and was hoping the 2–0 victory over Atalanta would be a turning point in its season.
But it found itself behind in the 20th minute when Nicola Sansone curled an unstoppable free kick into the top left corner, leaving Buffon rooted to the spot.
There was worse to come for Juventus when Chiellini, who had been booked in the fourth minute for dissent, was shown a second yellow card and sent off five minutes before halftime.
Pogba drilled inches wide of the left post minutes after the break as Juventus improved but still fell to its fourth defeat in 10 league matches as Sassuolo secured its first ever victory over the Biaconeri.
“If we were a provincial or normal team, I'd be satisfied with the reaction in the second half, with a man less, but we are Juventus and knowing our aims, I can only be upset,” Buffon said.
“There could've been excuses three or four weeks ago, but after the injured players returned and you play two or three games very well, you can't get the first half as wrong as we did tonight.”
Napoli is second, above Fiorentina and Inter on goal difference, after continuing its impressive run with an eighth win in its past nine matches in all competitions.
Higuain had scored in his previous three matches and he extended that streak six minutes from halftime, driving Marek Hamsik's pass into the bottom left corner from 25 yards.
Napoli had struck the woodwork early on and it did so twice more before substitute Dries Mertens—who had hit the post minutes earlier—sealed the result 10 minutes from time.
In Verona, Fiorentina broke the deadlock in the 25th when home goalkeeper Pierluigi Gollin fumbled Manuel Pasqual's cross and it went in off Rafael Marquez for an own goal.
Nikola Kalinic doubled Fiorentina's lead in the 57th, tapping in a great low cross from Giuseppe Rossi.
Alejandro Gomez snatched victory for Atalanta four minutes from time with a powerful effort into the top right corner after an own goal by Lazio defender Dusan Basta had cancelled out Lucas Biglia's opener from a free kick.