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Football

Cassano's hat-trick inspires Roma

Antonio Cassano
Cassano completed his hat-trick in 73 minutes.

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MILAN, Italy (Reuters) -- Antonio Cassano scored a hat-trick as Roma crushed Siena 6-0 in Serie A to keep within five points of leaders AC Milan.

Milan came back from two goals down to beat city rivals Inter 3-2 in a thrilling derby on Saturday.

A second-half goal from Mark Iuliano gave champions Juventus a 1-0 win at Bologna.

Milan lead on 55 points, with Roma on 50 and third-placed Juve a further point behind.

Fourth-placed Lazio were held to a goalless draw away to 10-man Chievo while Perugia picked up their first win of the season with a 2-1 victory at Reggina.

After Milan's spectacular comeback in the derby the pressure was on Roma and Juve to keep in touch but the outcome at the Olympic stadium was never in doubt after Cassano's 19th minute opener.

The Bari-born striker headed home from close range and then added a second five minutes later, slotting home after a mistake by Siena's Argentine defender Leandro Cufre, who is on loan from Roma.

The game was all over in the 31st minute when Cassano set up Brazilian Mancini for a straightforward finish.

Roma's Jonathan Zebina was dismissed for a second yellow card three minutes after the interval but that hardly changed the home side's dominance.

Francesco Totti had a penalty saved in the 56th minute but then the Roma captain provided the pass that allowed Cassano to complete his hat-trick as Roma went 4-0 up.

Siena had their Brazilian Juarez dismissed in the 76th minute before substitute Marco Delvecchio and then Totti completed the rout for a Roma side who face a tough trip to Parma next week.

"Cassano produced a great performance," said Roma coach Fabio Capello.

"But he was not alone. We still have some hope of recovering the gap on Milan because there are a lot of games left."

Scrappy game

Juventus, without the injured David Trezeguet, picked up three points from a scrappy game at Bologna riddled with errors from both sides.

Bologna enjoyed plenty of early pressure but striker Giuseppe Signori and Igli Tare were unable to make the most of the chances provided for them while Juve were restricted to two long-range efforts from Pavel Nedved.

The winning goal came in the 56th minute from the unlikely source of defender Mark Iuliano who slid in at the back post to poke home a free kick from Alessandro Del Piero.

Coach Marcello Lippi said he could ask for little more from his team.

"With four points more than we had at this time last season, we are in the final of the Italian Cup and in the last 16 of the Champions League," said Lippi.

"We can't do much better than that and if Milan don't slow down there won't be anything we can do. We did well today against a good Bologna side."

Lazio were unable to take advantage of their numerical superiority against Chievo, who had Marco Malago sent off in the 58th minute.

Claudio Lopez had a penalty saved by Chievo's former Lazio keeper Luca Marchegiani who was celebrating his 38th birthday and Lazio also had a goal from Brazilian Cesar harshly ruled out for offside.

Udinese's good form continued when they beat bottom club Ancona 3-0 to go level on points with sixth-placed Inter.

Perugia finally got their first victory of the season thanks to an injury-time goal from striker Dario Hubner.



Copyright 2004 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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