Sunday, 19 November 2006

Serie A Wk 12: Review

Saturday 18 November
Empoli 0-0 Milan
Milan's dreadful form continued when they were held to a goalless draw by Empoli on Saturday. The Rossoneri have now gone four games without a win in the league and coach Carlo Ancelotti is sure to face more pressure after yet another poor result, this time at the Stadio Castellani. Brazilian striker Ricardo Oliveira had no luck as he went close on three occasions. First, he curled the ball over Empoli keeper Daniele Balli from long range only to watch it come back off the bar and then the forward had a header cleared off the line. The woodwork came to Empoli's rescue a second time when Oliveira angled a shot against the post on the stroke of half time. The point leaves Milan 22 points behind leaders Inter.

Cagliari 1-0 Palermo
Palermo missed the chance to open up a three-point lead in Serie A as they were beaten 1-0 by Cagliari at the Stadio Sant'Elia in Sardinia. An 89th minute strike by substitute Simone Pepe was enough in the battle of the island teams in the Derby delle Isole. Fabio Simplicio's dismissal shortly before half-time, though, hurt the visitors
from Sicily and the defeat ended their aim to set a club record of six consecutive Serie A wins. Francesco Guidolin's team were without their inspirational captain Eugenio Corini, who was banned, and his absence was felt in midfield. In the end, it was good work by the tireless Davide Suazo which proved telling as he set up Pepe, who blasted the ball home from close range to steal all three points. Palermo now trail leaders Inter by three points ahead of the summit meeting next Sunday.

Sunday 19 November
Inter 1-0 Reggina
Inter took over sole leadership of Serie A with a narrow 1-0 victory over Reggina on Sunday. Hernan Crespo's fourth-minute effort was the difference between the two teams. The Nerazzurri went into the game knowing a triumph at the San Siro would see them climb three points clear of direct rivals Palermo, who they face next Sunday evening in Sicily. Roberto Mancini's men, the only team yet to be beaten in Italy's top flight this season, were forced to sweat until the final whistle against the bottom side, who never gave up. Reggina's Simone Missiroli hit the post and Honduran striker Leon forced a great save out of Julio Cesar. The game also marked Adriano's return, as he replaced an injured Julio Cruz early in the second half.

Roma 7-0 Catania
Roma sent out a warning to the rest of Italy about their Scudetto ambitions by destroying nine-man Catania 7-0 at the Stadio Olimpico. Already a goal down after Christian Panucci's early header, Catania
were forced to play for 75 minutes with 10 men after Giuseppe Mascara was sent off for a wild attempted elbow on Cristian Chivu. The Sicilian side simply could not cope and the Giallorossi were 4-0 up at the break thanks to two goals from Simone Perrotta and an effort from Brazilian Mancini. Luciano Spalletti's side showed no mercy after the break, Panucci added his second, substitute Vincenzo Montella scored on the break and then skipper Francesco Totti drove in the seventh from the edge of the area before Catania had Davide Baiocco sent off near the end for a second yellow card. Roma remain in third, four points behind Inter.

Messina 1-4 Lazio
Delio Rossi's Lazio confirmed their return to form with a humbling of hosts Messina. Last weekend's 5-0 thrashing of Udinese in Rome ended a five-match winless streak for the Eternal City club and Sunday's emphatic win in Sicily confirmed the turnaround. Stefano Mauri, who netted twice against Udinese, did so again against the Sicilians. He opened the scoring only for Messina's prolific striker Christian Rigano to equalise from the penalty spot in the second half. Goran Pandev quickly restored Lazio's lead and goals from Mauri and Stephen Makinwa ensured another comfortable win for Rossi's team.

Ascoli 1-1 Fiorentina
Fiorentina's attempts to pull clear of the relegation zone were scuppered as Sasa Bjelanovic's late equaliser earned Ascoli a point from a 1-1 draw. It looked as if Luca Toni's 45th-minute effort would be enough to lift the Viola above Ascoli and out of the bottom three for the first time this season. But Croatia forward Bjelanovic had other ideas, and his scrappy, close-range effort six minutes from time secured his team a draw that keeps them fourth from bottom. Nedo Sonetti, who was taking charge of Ascoli for the first time since being appointed as a replacement for the sacked Attilio Tesser, will be buoyed by the team's fighting qualities after going a goal down but the club remain without a league win so far this campaign.

Udinese 3-0 Siena
Udinese responded to owner Giampaolo Pozzo's strict training regime with a welcome home win to leapfrog Siena in the standings. Pozzo had punished his players after last weekend's 5-0 humiliation at Lazio - their third defeat in as many games - with a strict regime in the town of Peschiera del Garda, which now could become part of Udinese's preparations on a regular basis if results like this continue. An impressive win began with a 19th minute Asamoah Gyan goal - the Ghana striker heading in a cross from strike partner Vincenzo Iaquinta. Iaquinta then made it 2-0 with a 44th minute penalty after Siena keeper Alex Manninger was ruled to have brought down the forward. Iaquinta added his second and Udinese's third with a delicate finish in the 79th minute. The win moves the home side
up to seventh, while Siena slipped to eighth after suffering consecutive defeats following the narrow defeat against Reggina last weekend which brought to an end their eight-game unbeaten run.

Torino 1-0 Sampdoria
Struggling Torino picked up only their second victory of the season against a Sampdoria side who have yet to win on the road. The winning goal came 10 minutes from the end when Torino's Elvis Abbruscato was pulled down by defender Luigi Sala and Alessandro Rosina converted the penalty.
The victory should take some of the pressure off Alberto Zaccheroni who has had a difficult time since being appointed at the Turin club.

Livorno 3-0 Parma
Livorno restated their European ambitions with a comprehensive 3-0 win over 10-man Parma at the Stadio Armando Picchi. The Tuscan side took the lead through Marc Pfertzel's close range effort and then in the 51st minute Parma went down to 10 men with the sending off of Igor Budan. An own goal from Damiano Ferronetti made it 2-0 before Cristiano Lucarelli headed in Livorno's third eight minutes from the end. D
aniele Arrigoni's team maintain their unbeaten home record while Parma still search for their first three points on the road this season.

Chievo 2-2 Atalanta
Atalanta came back from two goals down to frustrate Chievo who had looked well poised for their first win of the season. Andrea Zanchetta put the Verona side ahead with a superb 25-metre free kick and then set up Sergio Pellisier who doubled the advantage in the 57th minute. But Atalanta pulled one back through Riccardo Zampagna, who slotted home from close range, before a spectacular bicycle kick from Simone Loria gave the Bergamo side a point. Despite a point, it will be home coach Luigi Del Neri who will be livid after his team threw away a game which they totally dominated.

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