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Serie A

Serie A Week 34 Roundup: Roma defeated in the Derby della Capitale as Juventus extend their lead at the top

In week 34 of Serie A, Lazio produced an inspired performance to win their first Rome Derby in the league since 2012. The Biancocelesti finished 3-1 victors, with Keita Balde grabbing a brace, ensuring Francesco Totti’s final derby would end in disappointment for the Roma captain.

Atalanta 2-2 Juventus

Despite drawing against Atalanta, Juventus were able to extend their lead at the top of the table while AC Milan, Inter and Fiorentina continue to underwhelm.

With their Champions League semi-final ahead, Juve travelled to Bergamo for a Friday night Serie A fixture against the season’s fairy-tale story, Atalanta.

Unbeaten in nine matches at home, La Dea were up for the challenge and went close to a 29th-minute opener when a one-on-one opportunity for Remo Freuler was saved by Gianluigi Buffon.

The away side were then within inches of an opener as Juan Cuadrado volleyed wide from just outside the 6-yard-box, before the Nerazzurri took the lead on the stroke of half-time, with Andrea Conti touching home a superb Alejandro Gomez cross.

Five minutes into the second-half, the Bianconeri were back on equal terms after Leonardo Spinazzola headed the ball into his own net off a Miralem Pjanic free kick.

A penalty for handball against Rafael Toloi was incorrectly overruled by the referee’s assistant, however Juventus continued forward and eventually snatched the lead in the 83rd minute. Pjanic was the provider once again, delivering a quality long ball to the back-post for a diving Dani Alves to head past the keeper.

However the home side weren’t about to give up hope and with one minute remaining in normal time, Remo Freuler found himself clear on goal and directed the ball into the net on his second attempt to deny the Italian Champions maximum points.

Torino 1-1 Sampdoria

In Saturday night’s only fixture, ninth-placed Torino hosted 10th-placed Sampdoria. The away side opened the scoring after just 12 minutes through a stunning left-foot strike from their rising star, Patrik Schick.

The Blucerchiati would hold the lead for over an hour before Juan Iturbe pounced on a Vasco Regini error at the back, drilling the ball home to secure a 1-1 draw.

Roma 1-3 Lazio

Sunday’s early afternoon Derby della Capitale headlined the weekend’s fixtures with Roma looking to gain revenge for Lazio’s recent victory in the Coppa Italia semi-finals.  Though the match didn’t start according to plan for Luciano Spalletti’s men who fell behind after 12 minutes when Keita Balde took on two defenders before beating Wojciech Szczesny with his weaker left-foot.

The Giallorossi were back on equal terms prior to half-time thanks to Danielle De Rossi’s converted penalty, however the Biancocelesti were left fuming with replays showing Kevin Strootman had taken a shameful dive in the box.

Lazio managed to channel their anger and Dusan Basta’s volley from the edge of the penalty area reclaimed the lead just five minutes into the second half. Any potential comeback was all but ended when Senad Lulic found himself with time and space on the counter attack and passed to Keita who calmly slotted the ball into the net for his second.

A clearly frustrated Giallorossi would go on to finish the match with just 10-men, after Antonio Rudiger received a straight red for a high, studs-up challenge on Filip Djordjevic. The full-time whistle soon followed, Lazio finishing as 3-1 victors.

Crotone 1-1 AC Milan

AC Milan were keen to put their disappointing loss to Empoli behind them when they travelled south to face Crotone. However, after Gianluigi Donnarumma made a stunning second-minute save to deny Andrea Barberis’ free kick, the Rossoneri fell behind just five minutes later as Marcello Trotta outmuscled Cristian Zapata in the box before drilling the ball home.

The Calabrese held the lead until half time and almost doubled their lead minutes into the second-half, denied once again by the fingertips of an outstretched Donnarumma.

Milan found an equaliser on 50 minutes when Juraj Kucka diverted a cross back in front of goal for Gabriel Paletta to touch into the net, however it was all the away side would earn from the day, with the match finishing 1-1 and Crotone extending their unbeaten run to five matches.

Around the grounds

In the afternoon’s other matches, Sassuolo defeated Empoli 3-1, Bologna emphatically returned to the winner’s circle with a 4-0 thrashing of Udinese and Cagliari narrowly overcame last-placed Pescara 1-0. Meanwhile, Palermo recorded their first victory in 11 matches against Paulo Sousa’s increasingly disappointing Fiorentina, despite acquiring just 25% of ball possession.

A weekend of Serie A football came to an end at Stadio Giuseppe Meazza where Napoli extended Inter’s winless run to six league matches. The only goal of the game came on the stroke of half time when Jose Callejon blasted home after Yuto Nagatomo’s howler of a clearance, in a match where the Nerazzurri rarely threatened the Partenopei’s goal.

What this means for the table

With four game weeks remaining, Napoli have closed the gap to second-placed Roma to just one-point, while Juventus were able to extend their lead at the top of the table despite a draw.

Inter remain within three-points of Milan and look to have lost any hope of European qualification. Meanwhile, on the other end of the table, Crotone continue their battle for survival, reducing the gap to 17th-placed Empoli to four points.

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