ROME, Italy, August 31 – Brazilian magician Diego teased and toyed with AS Roma as he inspired Juventus to a crucial 3-1 victory over their Serie A rivals in the Italian capital on Sunday.
The Turin giants went top of the table after the former Werder Bremen star’s brace at the Stadio Olimpico secured a second consecutive win and condemned Roma to a second defeat in two games.
Juventus coach Ciro Ferrara paid tribute to his star player.
"He already showed last week the quality he has. Technically he is very good but he’s also very useful in the defensive phase," said Ferrara.
"Of course we had some difficulties during the game but overall we played as we should and deserved to win.
"This win gives us confidence and confirms that we have great players here but I’m not reading anything into the six points at this time, even if we are doing well."
After a quiet opening the game quickly became a personal battle between the central figures on each side: Juve’s attacking midfielder Diego and midfielder enforcer Daniele De Rossi of Roma.
And Roma coach Luciano Spalletti admitted not all his players have the same will to win as De Rossi.
"It’s also my fault if the rest of the team does not have the same desire to fight," said Spalletti.
"De Rossi did but (Jeremy) Menez and (Francesco) Totti have different abilities. They lack a bit of fighting spirit."
Diego was at the centre of everything the visitors created and it was from his free-kick delivery that former Chelsea man Tiago forced the first save of the match from Julio Sergio on 23 minutes.
Moments later Diego scored a brilliant solo goal after Marco Cassetti inexplicably dithered on the halfway line, being robbed by the Brazilian playmaker who then held off John Arne Riise’s desperate challenge before flicking the ball beyond Sergio with the outside of his right boot.
It was a deserved lead as Juve were the only side that looked capable of scoring but De Rossi changed all that in an opportunist moment on 35 minutes.
David Pizarro played a quick free-kick sideways and from 35 yards De Rossi smashed a shot into the top corner, taking Gianluigi Buffon and Juventus completely by surprise.
Sergio tipped another header from Tiago over the bar before Diego teed up countryman Amauri to bend a shot around the Roma goalkeeper only to see it cannon back off the post.
In first half stoppage time Roma should have gone in front as Menez benefitted from a lucky break in midfield to play Totti in one-on-one with Buffon.
Roma’s talisman would have been expected to gobble up the opportunity a few years ago but he is a shadow of his former self and Buffon charged out to block his attempted chip.
Ten minutes into the second period Amauri had another great chance but Sergio stuck out a foot to deflect his close range shot over the bar.
Moments later Vincenzo Iaquinta beat a rash lunge from De Rossi and scampered away towards goal but Nicolas Burdisso chased back and did just enough to deflect the Juve striker’s shot off target.
It was one-way traffic and moments after Sergio had beaten out an Amauri header, Diego latched onto a Iaquinta flick before teasing Philippe Mexes and shooting low and hard past the forlorn goalkeeper on 68 minutes.
Totti hammered a shot onto the post 11 minutes from time, but it was too little too late for sorry Roma and Felipe Melo sealed the win in stoppage time after bursting forward unopposed from 40 yards out until he shot home from just outside the area.
Elsewhere, Sampdoria went top of the table with a 3-1 home win over Udinese while Lazio and Genoa also maintained 100 percent records with respectively a 2-1 win at Chievo and a 1-0 succes at Atalanta.
Champions Inter Milan thrashed 10-man AC Milan 4-0 at the San Siro on Saturday.