Francesco Totti scored on his 500th professional appearance for Roma as the capital club closed the gap on leaders Inter Milan back to six points with a 2-0 win at Napoli on Sunday. Just a week after Inter floundered on the south coast, Roma produced a clinical perfromance to come away with the spoils and continue their recent surge.
Meanwhile, AC Milan boosted their hopes of securing UEFA Champions League football again next season by closing on the top four with a 3-1 victory at Empoli.
Simone Perrotta got Roma off to a dream start after only two minutes, converting a pass from Totti. Perrotta should have added a second, but Matteo Gianello saved with his feet in the Napoli goal.
Totti celebrated his 500th appearance in all competitions for Roma with a successful penalty strike, after Daniele Mannini was adjudged to have tugged back Cicinho as the little Brazilian ran into the box. The result continued Roma's fine run which has seen them cut Inter's Serie A lead from 11 to six points and also eliminate Spanish giants Real Madrid from the Champions League.
Roma coach Luciano Spalletti agreed his side were closing in on and putting pressure on the champions. "But they have those (great) players and we have to try in these matches to close the gap a little bit. But looking at the day we could have had we're still (only) six points back," he said.
Kaka makes the difference
In Empoli, Milan took the lead on 19 minutes through teenage Brazilian forward Alexandre Pato, who pounced on a loose ball dropped by goalkeeper Davide Bassi. Empoli were the better side early on, creating more clear-cut chances and deservedly equalised through Antonio Busce, who rifled home at the back post when a cross somehow made its way through to him on 23 minutes.
Alberto Gilardino had the ball in the net for Milan moments later but it was ruled out for offside. Claudio Marchisio almost gave Empoli the lead in the second half, but his shot cannoned back off the post with Milan's Australian goalkeeper Zeljko Kalac a mere spectator.
But Milan then started to exert more and more pressure and the hosts capitulated four minutes from time as Massimo Ambrosini headed home a cross from Kaka, who then wrapped up the scoring a minute from time.
Milan coach Carlo Ancelotti said the result was more important than the performance. "I didn't like the way we played. We're in a period of recovery," he said in reference to his team's Champions League exit against Arsenal last week.
"The most important thing was the result and we got it with
hard work. For the rest we'll wait and see. We will calmly
rediscover our game."
Juve power clear of Fiorentina
Milan remain fifth but are just one point behind Fiorentina, who lost 1-0 at Siena. Former Middlesbrough striker Massimo Maccarone scored the only goal of the game with a blistering free-kick ten minutes from time, only to then be dismissed for picking up a second booking after an overly exuberent celebration when he stripped off his shirt.
Giampaolo Pazzini had missed Fiorentina's best chance of the
game in the first period, firing wide after bursting into the box
with only the goalkeeper to beat.
In the day's late match, third-placed Juventus moved four points clear of Fiorentina courtesy of a 2-0 victory at Genoa. Zdenek Grygera gave Juve the lead on 25 minutes and French forward David Trezeguet returned to the top of the Italian scoring charts by doubling the advantage seven minutes later.
On Saturday, Inter Milan celebrated their centenary with a 2-0 victory over Reggina at the San Siro. Zlatan Ibrahimovic opened the scoring from the spot before Nicolas Burdisso headed home the second from Luis Jimenez's cross.