- Associated Press - Monday, February 20, 2017

ROME (AP) - Turnarounds don’t get much quicker than this.

Three days after he was hired, Zdenek Zeman coached last-place Pescara to its first outright win of the season by a score of 5-0 - the first time the Abruzzo club has won with a five-goal margin in Serie A history.

“All I can do is thank the lads because we only had three training sessions together but they showed that if we dedicate ourselves and if we stay focused we can do well,” Zeman said after the victory over Genoa on Sunday. “We broke the spell.”

For its only other “victory” this season, Pescara was awarded a 3-0 win over Sassuolo in August because Sassuolo used an ineligible player. Sassuolo had won 2-1.

Previous coach Massimo Oddo was fired last week after six consecutive losses - in the last two of which Pescara had conceded a total of 11 goals.

So on Thursday, Pescara rehired the 69-year-old Zeman, a chain-smoking Czech coach known as “the Bohemian” who had guided the club to the Serie B title five years earlier with a record number of goals.

Known for his all-out attacking style and 4-3-3 formation, Zeman’s impact was immediate.

After an own-goal five minutes in, Gianluca Caprari - the only holdout from Zeman’s first spell at Pescara - scored two, English-born Libya international Ahmad Benali added another and 20-year-old Alberto Cerri got his first Serie A goal.

The result prompted the firing of Genoa coach Ivan Juric.

“Zeman doesn’t say much but when he does speak he’s very clear,” Cerri said. “He told us to clear our heads and give our all.”

Pescara is still 11 points from safety with 13 matches to go but it’s only one point behind penultimate Crotone and two points behind Palermo. The goal is to catch Empoli, which is 10 points ahead.

“It doesn’t depend only on us, it depends on how the others do, too,” Zeman said. “We would need the three squads ahead of us to stall and us to leap forward. Plus, we still have to face (Serie A leader) Juventus so we already have one less match available - even though we’ll try to win that one.”

Zeman, who will turn 70 before the end of the season, has a long history with Juventus. He accused the Turin power of drug abuse nearly 20 years ago when he coached Roma, sparking a years-long trial.

In 2004, Juventus physician Riccardo Agricola was convicted of administering banned substances, including the hormone EPO, to Juventus players from 1994-98, and was handed a suspended sentence of 22 months. He was cleared on appeal a year later.

Zeman left Pescara in 2012 to return to Roma, which was an offer he said he “couldn’t refuse.” But memories of his first spell at Pescara, when the club scored a Serie B-record 90 goals in 42 games with a team that featured current Italy internationals Ciro Immobile, Lorenzo Insigne and Marco Verratti - made it easy for him to come back.

Zeman said he inherited a squad in poor physical condition.

“We’re going to have to work on that aspect a lot,” Zeman said. “The important thing is that the lads don’t think the season is over.”

Pescara’s hard-core “ultra” fans stayed away from the Genoa match in protest at the squad’s poor results.

“I would have liked for them to have come out and given us a hand,” Zeman said. “I hope we can convince them to return.”

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Andrew Dampf on Twitter: www.twitter.com/asdampf


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