Luca Toni's return to Italian football is finally up and running as he helped Roma to a convincing 3-0 win over Genoa in Serie A yesterday.
The result continued Roma's fine recent form, which has now seen them go 14 matches without defeat in all competitions. Ten of these had come in the league, which had resulted in a meteoric rise up the table.
Yesterday's match, the 12th time Roma had defended Barney Corkhill's Unofficial World Club Championship (UWCC ), showed why they were seriously competing for a top four spot as they swept aside Genoa, who had been eliminated from the Coppa Italia just four days previously.
Right from the off, Roma looked a class above their opponents as Genoa seemed incapable of dealing with their swift football and, in particular, Luca Toni's strength and movement.
After less than two minutes, that strength came to the fore when a long ball was played into the penalty area. Toni did well to hold off the defender while laying the ball down to Simone Perrotta, but he blasted his shot straight at the goalkeeper.
Toni had a chance of his own a few minutes later too.
Some quick play by the home side, coupled with a poor clearance on the part of the Genoa defence, led to Marco Cassetti producing a perfect cross to an unmarked Toni.
The crowd was waiting for the net to ripple, but the big Italian miscued his header and sent it wide of Marco Amelia's post.
Less than 10 minutes in and Roma should have been 2-0 up.
A rare counter-attack from Genoa provided some excitement for the away fans as David Suazo tested Julio Sergio from long range, but it wasn't long before Roma were back on the offence, and eventually their pressure paid off.
A thunderous Mirko Vucinic free-kick from 35 yards out forced a good save by Amelia and, from the resulting corner, Roma got the breakthrough.
A beautiful hanging ball by David Pizarro found Juan at the back post whose header forced a fine one-handed save from Amelia.
Unfortunately for the Genoa 'keeper, the ball landed inside his six-yard box and, after a small scramble for it, Perrotta volleyed it conclusively into the away side's net.
The goal woke Genoa up somewhat, and not long after they were the one's causing problems.
A high ball into the penalty area led a floundering Julio Sergio to come out and try and claim it, only to drop it at the feet of Giandomencio Mesta, who had both his initial shot and resulting cross well blocked.
But any forays into the Roma half for Genoa merely served to momentarily stem the tide, and the Giallorossi were soon on the attack once more.
They should have doubled their lead too, but again Toni was guilty of missing a golden opportunity.
A cross from deep by Perrotta was, once again, inch-perfect for the World Cup-winning striker, who did well to get ahead of his marker before powering a header low towards goal, only to be denied by a good Amelia save.
After numerous chances, though, Toni wouldn't have to wait too much longer for his first goal back in Serie A.
It came on the stroke of half-time as Vucinic drilled in a dangerous low cross. Once again, Toni showed good movement to get in front of the defender and steer it past Amelia to double Roma's lead.
With the timing of the goal, and the way the match had been going up to that point, that was viewed by many as the killer goal.
Genoa didn't see it that way, however, and as the second-half began they set about trying to destroy the home side's lead.
They should have halved it after 55 minutes when a poor back-pass allowed Ivan Fatic in, but his shot while under pressure went some way wide.
Just five minutes later, Toni made Genoa pay for the missed opportunity.
An enticing free-kick from Mirko Vucinic drifted towards the back post, and Roma's loaned striker rose higher than everyone else to head it across goal and into the back of the net.
There was no doubt from then on that Roma had the three points in the bag and, as such, the match lost a lot of it's allure.
Roma were happy to dominate possession and ride out a 3-0 victory while Genoa looked to have given up as soon as Toni's header went in.
The scoreline equalled the biggest UWCC win of this season, taking it's place alongside Chelsea's 3-0 victories against Burnley and Tottenham, as well as Roma's win against CSKA Sofia just over a month ago.
87.5 percent of people who voted in the poll correctly predicted that Roma would avoid defeat against Genoa, so well done to the majority!
Barney's prediction: Roma win (2-1) Actual Result: Roma win (3-0)
Correct prediction streak: Three matches in a row!
Roma 2-1 Fulham (Roma become new champions)
Roma 3-0 Genoa
(Click here to see the complete history of Barney Corkhill's Unofficial World Club Championship)
Roma's next defence comes next Saturday in a very interesting match against the inconsistent Juventus.
Form book (last five matches): Roma - WDWWW; Juventus - LWLWL
Barney's prediction: Juventus 1-1 Roma
H O M E A W A Y
What are your predictions for this upcoming fixture? Will Juventus be able to put their recent problems behind them to become the best side in the world, or will Roma continue their rampant run and make Juventus their next victims?
Video highlights of Roma 3-0 Genoa can be seen here .
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