Sunday, 11 February 2007

Serie A Wk 23: Review

Sunday 11 February
Italy's Serie A programme resumed on Sunday with four stadia closed to fans but there were plenty of action for those who did manage to view their teams in action. Before all matches kicked-off, there was a minute's silence at all grounds around Italy following the death of Fillippo Raciti in the Catania riots last week.

Chievo 0-2 Inter
Adriano scored in the very first minute to propel runaway leaders Internazionale to another victory on Sunday at Chievo. The Brazilian international was out of sorts early in the season but has shown glimpses of the form in recent times which made him one of the world's most sought-after strikers. Dejan Stankovic set Adriano up for the goal and then Hernan Crespo doubled the advantage in the second half. The result means Inter maintain their 11-point lead at the top of Serie A while they stretched their record winning streak to 15 matches.

Roma 3-0 Parma
Roma kept up their distant pursuit of Serie A leaders Inter with a comprehensive win over 10-man Parma. The Stadio Olimpico was one of the stadia which was allowed to let fans in after the regulations imposed in the aftermath of the crowd trouble two weekends ago, and those lucky few saw a fine display of second-half football. All three goals came after the break, Francesco Totti breaking the deadlock before Simone Perrotta doubled the advantage and Rodrigo Taddei completed the rout in the dying moments, which also saw Fernando Couto receive two yellow cards in quick succession.

Palermo 0-1 Empoli
Empoli moved into the top four with a well-deserved win away at Palermo. The home side are still 10 points ahead of the visitors in third, but this was a fantastic result for a side already in the midst of a memorable season. Sergio Bernardo Almiron's goal straight after the interval was enough to seal all three points for Luigi Cagni's overachievers. The match was played at the Stadio Renzo Barbera, one of the grounds allowed to accommodate fans this weekend. This week, club President Maurizio Zamparini launched a ticketing scheme to give free admission to children under 16 accompanied by a parent in a bid to create a more family-friendly atmosphere at La Favorita.

Milan 2-1 Livorno
With only season-ticket holders watching on, AC Milan moved to within two points of a Champions League position with victory over Livorno. Marek Jankulovski's 68th minute strike won it for Milan, after Cristiano Lucarelli had immediately cancelled out Gennaro Gattuso's opener in the first half. Milan were allowed to admit their season-ticket holders to the San Siro after scrambling to make security improvements at the ground to comply with the new criteria

Fiorentina 2-0 Udinese
Alberto Malesani had an unwelcome return to Florence as his former club Fiorentina ended his 100% record as Udinese boss since he took over last month. An early goal from Reginaldo put the Viola on course for the win and Giampaolo Pazzini sealed the win just before the interval. Malesani had won both Serie A games since replacing the sacked Giovanni Galeone last month but had no answer against a Fiorentina side who would be having a great season were it not for a 15-point deduction for their part in the Calciopoli scandal last season.

Torino 1-2 Reggina
Rolando Bianchi gave himself an early birthday present, scoring twice in 10 minutes to earn Reggina three precious points at relegation rivals Torino. Bianchi, who turns 24 on Thursday, fired a pair of second-half strikes as the Amaranto moved within three points of Alberto Zaccheroni's side with their second straight win and pulled further clear of the relegation zone into 16th place. Gianluca Commotto netted for the hosts but its another poor result for the Turin side.

Messina 1-1 Catania
Giuseppe Mascara's second-half free-kick rescued a point for new Messina coach Alberto Cavasin as they dented Catania's European hopes at a washed-out Stadio San Filippo. With the stadium closed to the public following last weekend's troubles, the game faced fresh problems when kick-off was delayed for an hour due to a waterlogged pitch. The rain began again almost as soon as the referee blew his whistle to kick-off proceedings, making it difficult for the two sides to keep the ball on the ground. Messina, who had led through Marco Zanchi, brought in Cavasin after taking only four points from a possible 36 under Bruno Giordano which has seen them sink into the bottom three.

Atalanta 0-0 Lazio
A game with no fans watching ended with no goals either as Atalanta and Lazio shared the points in a desperate encounter. Neither side could find the breakthrough in an unremitting game of cat and mouse, with goalscoring opportunities very much at a premium. The eerie atmosphere cannot have helped, with all supporters barred from entering the Stadio Atleti d'Azzurri after the modest ground fell foul of stricter security criteria in light of the death of a police officer at the Sicilian derby a little over a week ago. And with no-one to put a show on for, the two teams were unable to rise as high as even the mediocre.

Sampdoria 2-0 Ascoli
Sampdoria won their first game of 2007 with a victory over Ascoli, a result which leaves their opponents rooted to the bottom of Serie A. Former Samp goalkeeper Gianluca Pagliuca did all he could to keep his current side Ascoli in the game, but he could only hold out for 48 minutes before Christian Maggio headed the opener. Daniele Franceschini added a second 15 minutes before the end, just five minutes after the guests were reduced to 10 men following the dismissal of Matteo Melara.

Cagliari 2-2 Siena
Paul Codrea's 25-yard strike seven minutes from time snatched a draw for Siena after the visitors had let slip the lead. Cagliari, one of the few teams to play in front of their fans this weekend, had fought back from Daniele Corvia's opener to equalise and then take the lead through Andrea Capone and David Suazo. The Sardinians looked set to claim all three points until a wonder strike from Codrea ensured a draw which does neither of the relegation contenders much of a favour.

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