Milan (AFP) – England goalkeeper Joe Hart narrowly avoided a goal-line howler as Andrea Belotti inspired a rampant Torino to a 5-1 win over Cagliari in Serie A on Saturday.
Torino welcomed the Sardinians looking to get back to winning ways after two draws and a defeat at Inter Milan last month where Hart was beaten by a Mauro Icardi double.
In a rain-lashed encounter that saw fledgling Italy striker Belotti hit a brace in a superb performance for the hosts, Torino were hardly troubled by Massimo Rastelli’s visitors.
Belotti, called up to the latest Italy squad on Saturday having only made his international debut in September, started the goal deluge before the two-minute mark when he hit Mirko Valdifiori’s cross on the volley then collected the rebound from Marco Storari’s save to slam the ball home.
Serbian Adem Ljajic curled just wide of the far post with a free-kick moments later before beating Storari with a swerving drive inside the area on 11 minutes.
Ljajic’s pace and movement were causing all sorts of problems for Cagliari’s swamped defence, who were caught out regularly on the counter as they pressed high.
Federico Melchiorri tested Hart with a snapshot that the ‘keeper parried, and on the half hour the Englishman fumbled a Gianni Munari shot that went over his head and, after bouncing behind him, came dangerously close to going over the line before he plucked it to safety.
Goal-line technology declared no goal and Torino went on to take a 3-1 lead into half-time.
Marco Benassi collected the ball inside the area, spun and beat Storari with an angled shot into the far top corner for the hosts’ third.
Hart was then beaten fairly and squarely just before the interval when Melchiorri rose to send a powerful header past the ‘keeper’s hand and inside the near post.
But Torino were not to be denied a comprehensive win that reinforced their grip on seventh place, eight points behind leaders Juventus, ahead of the remaining fixtures.
Daniele Baselli stretched the hosts’ lead six minutes after the restart, and when Belotti was upended in the area just before the hour the Torino striker stepped up to beat Storari for the second time.
Cagliari’s Daniele Dessena was issued a straight red card for protesting the penalty call, having appeared to grab the referee’s arm after he had raised it to caution Diego Farias for the foul.