De Rossi marks 500th Roma game with goal and victory

The 32-year-old De Rossi found the target in the 59th minute after Miralem Pjanic had hit the opener with a superb direct free-kick three minutes earlier.

Daniele De Rossi celebrates after scoring against Empoli on Saturday.   -  REUTERS

Daniele De Rossi marked his 500th appearance for Roma with a goal in his team's 3-1 win over Empoli on Saturday as Rudi Garcia's side moved into second place in Serie A.

The 32-year-old De Rossi found the target in the 59th minute after Miralem Pjanic had hit the opener with a superb direct free-kick three minutes earlier.

The Bosnian also played a key role in De Rossi's goal when his corner was headed home by the midfield veteran.

Roma, playing without the injured Francesco Totti and Edin Dzeko, were 3-0 to the good in the 69th minute when Mohamed Salah found the net after being set up by Gervinho.

Empoli pulled a goal back through Austrian international Marcel Buechel in the 70th minute but the three points for Roma will be a huge boost ahead of their Champions League clash at Bayer Leverkusen on Tuesday.

The win took Roma into second spot in the table, one point behind leaders Fiorentina.

“When you win it's always a perfect night, and I'm even happier I scored a goal especially when I don't score that often,” said De Rossi, whose only regret was scoring under an empty 'Curva Sud'.

A large section of the club's hardline fans, who traditionally occupy the more colourful and lively 'Curva Sud' end of the Olimpico, have gone on strike to protest police restrictions in and around the stadium.

It has left the Curva conspicuously empty, and De Rossi added: “Tonight the goal under an empty Curva was a disappointment. We hope the situation can be resolved, it would have been the perfect present to mark 500 appearances.”

De Rossi added: “It's an important win for us because Empoli are a tough side, they're well organised and solid in midfield. Everyone struggles against them.”

Elsewhere Saturday AC Milan put the brakes on Torino's promising start to the campaign by holding on for a 1-1 draw at the Stadio Olimpico in Turin.

Torino hosted AC Milan and were expected to claim their first win over the Rossoneri since 2001.

But with Milan desperate for their first win in three games, the Granata were made to work on the night for their second draw of the campaign.

Milan, still without injured Mario Balotelli, enjoyed the lion's share of what was an insipid opening half, with Riccardo Montolivo firing a half-volley over and then forcing Daniele Padelli to palm the ball to safety.

It took until just after the hour for Milan to break the deadlock, Carlos Bacca firing Andrea Bertolacci's low delivery into the roof of the net after he had been left on his own in front of goal.

Milan's joy lasted only 10 minutes, however, Torino's Italy Under-21 star Daniele Baselli maintaining his purple patch to beat Diego Lopez at the 'keeper's inside post.

On Sunday, Inter Milan face champions Juventus looking to claim their first San Siro win in the 'Derby d'Italia' — one of the league's biggest fixtures — for the first time since 2010.

An Inter win would see Juventus slip 11 points behind the Nerazzurri and could see Inter, if leaders Fiorentina lose at Napoli, go back on top of the league.

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