Sunday, 10 December 2006

Serie A Wk 15: Review

Saturday 9 December
Palermo 3-0 Livorno
Fabio Simplicio scored twice as Palermo closed the gap on second-placed Roma to just one point with a comfortable home victory against Livorno. The Brazilian midfielder opened the scoring with a deflected second-minute strike, before countryman and leading scorer Carvalho Amauri doubled the hosts' advantage nine minutes before half-time with a powerful header. Simplicio put the icing on the cake with his second goal, a powerful right-foot 11 minutes from time to give the Sicilian giants their first win in four Serie A matches. Defeat for Livorno saw them miss an opportunity to move into the a Champions League place and stretches their recent winless run in Serie A to three games.

Reggina 2-1 Ascoli
Goals by Alessandro Lucarelli and Nicola Amoruso gave Reggina three more precious points in their fight against relegation. Lucarelli broke the deadlock for Reggina after 28 minutes, before Amoruso added a second in the 76th minute. Marco Pecorari pulled a goal back with seven minutes to go but the visitors could not force an equaliser. The southerners, who started the season with 15 points deducted for their part in the Calciopoli scandal, remain bottom of the division, but are now just one point behind Nedo Sonetti's Ascoli, who remain the only winless team in Serie A this season.

Sunday 10 December
Lazio 3-0 Roma
Lazio dealt a huge blow to the Serie A title hopes of arch-rivals Roma after winning the first Derby della Capitale of the season in style at the Stadio Olimpico. Cristian Ledesma broke the deadlock with a superb long-range drive on the stroke of half time. A foul by Roma keeper Alexander Doni on Goran Pandev gave Massimo Oddo the opportunity to double Lazio's lead from the penalty spot shortly after the restart. Roma's hopes of a comeback vanished when Massimo Mutarelli made it 3-0 with 18 minutes remaining. Roma slip seven points behind leaders Inter, while Lazio are just two behind a Champions League place.

Empoli 0-3 Inter
Inter established a seven-point lead at the top of Serie A with a 3-0 victory over Empoli on Sunday afternoon to notch up their eighth league win in a row to equal their best winning run in the top flight - a record that dates back to the 1939-40 season. Inter dominated for long periods but only transformed their superiority into goals after half-time. Hernan Crespo got the ball rolling on the hour mark and further efforts from Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Walter Samuel enabled Inter to complete their eighth successive Serie A victory. The Nerrazzurri can set a new club record of nine consecutive league victories if they beat Messina next week

Milan 0-0 Torino
Alberto Gilardino missed a late penalty as AC Milan's dreadful league form continued when they were held to a goalless draw by Torino at the San Siro. Gilardino's 76th-minute spot-kick beat Torino goalkeeper Christian Abbiati but rebounded off the post, much to the displeasure of the Rossoneri supporters. The Italy international had earned the penalty after being brought down by defender Gabriele Cioffi. The Rossoneri were fortunate to escape defeat after Torino substitute Roberto Muzzi was twice denied by the post in the closing stages of the game. Coach Carlo Ancelotti is sure to face more pressure from the media as Milan have now drawn three of their last four league games and are 10 points behind fourth-placed Catania

Chievo 0-1 Fiorentina
Fiorentina finally climbed out of the relegation zone for the first time this season after a 1-0 victory over Chievo. The Tuscan outfit went into the encounter in the bottom three, partly because of the 15 points they were docked because of the Calciopoli scandal. The game looked to be heading towards a draw before Adrian Mutu's 80th-minute goal, a left-footed strike from outside the area that beat goalkeeper Vincenzo Sicignano, eventually made all the difference. The first half was an uninspiring affair but Cesare Prandelli's men increased the tempo after the restart and were rewarded for their efforts.

Catania 1-0 Udinese
Gionatha Spinesi's second-half goal earned Catania a win at the expense of Udinese that propels them up to fourth in the Serie A table. The Sicilians have acclimatised well to the top flight since winning promotion and they were too good for an Udinese side that seems to have lost its way. Even though Spinese scored thw inning goal, the man of the match was goalkeeper Armando Pantanelli, who saved shots by Vincenzo Iaquinta and Antonio Di Natale to preserve his side's fragile lead. At the start of the season, Udinese's bullish owner Giampaolo Pozzo declared he believed his team could challenge for the title, given the various match-fixing punishments inflicted on other clubs. A meagre six points from their last nine matches would seem to suggest that he was being over-optimistic in his assessment

Atalanta 3-2 Messina
A late fightback from struggling Messina failed to prevent Atalanta from securing their first win in five Serie A matches. The Bergamaschi looked on course for a comfortable victory when Davide Bombardini opened his account for the season just before the half-hour mark, then superb second-half strikes from Adriano Ferreira Pinto and Cristiano Doni gave them a three-goal cushion with just over 20 minutes remaining. But the Sicilian outfit were in no mood for a thrashing and showed tremendous character which was rewarded when Nicolas Cordova (76) and Arturo Di Napoli (80) struck to set up a tense finish at the Stadio Azzurri d'Italia. Stefano Colantuono's side held on and moved back up to fifth in the table, while Messina are still to register a victory on their travels and are just four points above the drop zone after suffering four consecutive defeats

Sampdoria 0-0 Siena
Sampdoria and Siena shared the spoils in a draw at the Stadio Luigi Ferraris. The 85th-minute sending-off of Siena midfielder Abdoulay Konko for a second bookable offence injected some urgency into what had been a quiet game between midtable teams. Franesco Flachi thought he had secured a victory for the home side when he put the ball in the net soon afterwards, but the referee had already halted play because of a foul

Cagliari 0-0 Parma
Parma recorded a second successive clean sheet in a draw at Cagliari, but that was about the only good news as the Ducale club's long search for a win continues. Parma slip into the relegation zone on the back of this result, level with 17th-placed Chievo on points but suffering from an inferior goal difference. That is down to a porous defence which has conceded 27 goals in the first 13 games of the season. After last weekend's goalless draw with Palermo, coach Stefano Pioli can at least take heart from an improvement at the back. Parma created more but wasted their best chance to score when striker Igor Budan headed over from close range early in the second half. Cagliari's 10th draw in 15 matches this season leaves them comfortably in midtable.

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