Totti rocket hands Roma precious win over Juve

Francesco Totti hit a 25-metre rocket for Roma to seal a precious 1-0 win over Juventus and hand the leaders only their fourth defeat of the campaign Saturday.

AS Roma forward Francesco Totti celebrates scoring during their Italian Serie A football match against Juventus on February 16, 2013 at the Olympic Stadium in Rome. Totti hit a 25-metre rocket for Roma to seal a precious 1-0 win over Juventus and hand the leaders only their fourth defeat of the campaign

Juve, fresh from a precious 3-0 Champions League win away to Celtic, had Claudio Marchisio and Federico Peluso suspended and also Giorgio Chiellini, Paolo De Ceglie and Nicklas Bendtner out through injury.

Bianconeri coach Antonio Conte welcomed Kwadwo Asamoah back from the African Cup of Nations although the Ghanaian midfielder was replaced as fatigue set in midway through the second half.

But barely two weeks after taking over from sacked Roma head coach Zdenek Zeman, caretaker Aurelio Andreazzoli switched from a 4-3-3 to a 3-4-2-1 with Erik Lamela and Totti supporting striker Pablo Osvaldo.

Juve came to Rome with realistic hopes of taking three points from a side that had claimed only two from their last seven games.

However, the crisis seemed to galvanise the Giallorossi, who held their own in the first half and completely dominated the champions after the interval when they should have put several past keeper Gianluigi Buffon.

Totti admitted the win, which moved them up two places to seventh on 37 points and within sight of the European places, had taken the edge off their recent troubles.

"I was really hoping for this tonight. We don't really deserve to be in the situation we're in," said the skipper.

"We always give our maximum for the club and the fans, but lately it's not been happening for us. Today I think we showed our true character in beating a great team."

There was little to talk of in the opening half.

Roma striker Pablo Osvaldo should have done better with an early opportunity which he shot straight at Buffon.

Roma keeper Maarten Stekelenburg then superbly parried a curling freekick from Andrea Pirlo, which was sneaking in at the bottom corner just before half-time.

Osvaldo ran on to Totti's pass minutes into the second half but, under pressure, sent a low angled shot wide of Buffon's upright.

At the other end, a long ball to Paul Pogba in the Roma area caused panic with the attempted clearance falling to Mirko Vucinic, who sent a volley just wide of Stekelenburg's post.

Juventus dominated the early exchanges, but Roma should have taken the lead when Osvaldo rose to meet an incisive pass from the right of the area only to send a bullet header straight at Buffon.

Conte made a double substitution just before the hour with Sebastian Giovinco and Simone Padoin replacing Vucinic and Asamoah respectively.

Minutes later, Totti made the Olympic stadium erupt when he pounced on the rebound from a freekick 30 metres out to hit a superb first-time drive past the helpless Buffon.

Roma should have doubled their lead minutes later but De Rossi mis-hit Vassilas Torosidis's delivery into the area after a long run upfield in possession.

Conte replaced Arturo Vidal with Nicolas Anelka, handing the Frenchman his debut after his recent move from Shanghai Shenhua.

But despite Stekelenburg scaring the hosts when he mishandled Giovinco's probing cross from the left, Juve were lucky not to be further punished by the hosts.

Earlier, a 55th minute penalty from French striker Cyril Thereau secured a share of the points for Chievo at home to Palermo.

Palermo took a shock fifth-minute lead thanks to Mauro Formica's superb angled strike but Thereau converted from the spot after Palermo defender Santiago Garcia handled in the box.

Juve's defeat gives second-placed Napoli a chance to close the gap to just two points when they host Sampdoria in Sunday's early game.

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Writer: AFP
Position: News agency