Wednesday, 28 February 2007

Serie A Wk 26: Review

Wednesday 28 February
Inter 1-1 Udinese
Inter's 17-match winning streak in Serie A was finally brought to an end on Wednesday night as Udinese left the San Siro with a hard-earned point. Inter's record-breaking run has taken them well clear at the top of the standings and they had the chance to extend their advantage to 16 points following second-placed Roma's stalemate at Chievo earlier in the day. But, in the end, they were grateful to salvage a draw, courtesy of Hernan Crespo's 66th-minute equaliser which cancelled out Christian Obodo's spectacular opener at the start of the second half. The result still means the Nerazzurri maintain their 14-point lead over second-placed Roma.

Chievo 2-2 Roma
A brace from Francesco Totti was enough to salvage a point for Roma after they had gone 2-0 down against Chievo at the Stadio Marc' Antonio Bentegodi. Erjon Bogdani had put the hosts into the lead after 17 minutes before Franco Semiolo doubled their advantage in the 33rd minute. But Roma's inspirationl captain, who is now three goals clear of Fiorentina's Luca Toni at the summit of Serie A's scoring charts with 16 goals, came to their rescue with strikes either side of half-time to keep his side firmly in the hunt for an automatic Champions League spot

Palermo 0-0 Milan
Kaka failed to convert a first-half penalty as AC Milan were held to a goalless draw by Palermo at the La Favorita. Palermo's Alberto Fontana was at full stretch to save the Brazilian's ninth-minute spot-kick after the goalkeeper had brought down Alberto Gilardino inside the area. Fontana remained heavily involved, making several fine saves from the ever-dangerous Kaka to deny the Rossoneri their fifth victory in a row. Luck was not on the Rossoneri's side either with substitute Ronaldo also being denied by the crossbar 10 minutes from time. The outcome has left Milan still eight points behind third-placed Palermo and three behind fourth-placed Lazio, the last Champions League qualifying spot, with 13 games left to play.

Lazio 3-1 Catania
In-form Lazio struck twice in the dying minutes to see off Catania and keep their Champions League hopes on track. The Biancoceleste, who were hit with a three-point deduction for their part in the Calciopoli scandal before the season got underway, are fourth in the standings, two points clear of Empoli with 12 games remaining. Giuseppe Colucci gave Catania a first-half lead at the Stadio Olimpico before Goran Pandev equalised on the hour mark. Sebastiano Siviglia put the hosts in front in the 88th minute before Tommaso Rocchi put the game beyond Catania's reach in injury time. The win was Lazio's second in a row and it allowed the Romans to maintain their unbeaten run in 2007

Reggina 1-1 Fiorentina
A last-gasp Adrian Mutu penalty spared Fiorentina's blushes as their four-game winning run came to an end at Reggina. The Amaranto had only lost two games at the Stadio Granillo before Wednesday and looked to be on their way to another home win when Pasquale Foggia put them ahead just before the hour mark. But a Salvatore Aronica handball two minutes from time handed the Viola a chance from the spot and Mutu did not waste it. It was just reward for Fiorentina, who had looked the more likely side to score before Foggia's opener and had come close on several occasions in the second half. The Viola are eight points away from a Champions League position, while the home side are only one point claer of the relegation zone.

Empoli 3-1 Messina
Empoli made it five home wins in a row with a comfortable victory over 10-man Messina. The Azzurri were two goals to the good by half-time thanks to strikes from Luca Saudati and Lino Marzoratti, and Messina's task became doubly tough when Daniele de Vezze saw red 10 minutes after the break. Saudati claimed his second shortly after to put the result beyond doubt, though substitute Edgar Alvarez pulled one back for the visitors late on. The result sees the Tuscans move above Milan into fifth and just two points behind fourth-placed Lazio.

Torino 1-0 Cagliari
Gianni De Biasi won the battle of the new coaches as Torino emerged victorious in a tight encounter against fellow strugglers Cagliari. Having only taken over at the Turin club on Monday, De Biasi watched on as his players claimed their first points of 2007 thanks to Cesare Bovo's strike midway through the first half. Andrea Ardito was sent off for the hosts after picking up a second booking in second-half stoppage time, but the Granata hung on for a priceless win. De Biasi's opposite number, Marco Giampaolo, also took up the reins at Cagliari on Monday, but he failed to bring an end to the Sardinian's current winless streak, which now stands at five games. Both men are in their second stint at their respective clubs, and each will have his work cut out in the battle to avoid the drop.

Sampdoria 2-1 Atalanta
Sampdoria came from behind to defeat Atalanta and move ahead of their opponents in the race for a place in Europe next season. Nicola Ventola gave the away team a deserved lead after eight minutes as the Bergamese club looked to continue their excellent form. A much-improved Sampdoria responded well to several tactical changes by their coach Walter Novellino and pulled level through Fabio Bazzani in the 71st minute. Sergio Volpi then stepped up to give the Genovese club all three points, putting away an 83rd-minute penalty after Jose Talamonti handled inside the area.

Ascoli 0-0 Parma
Serie A's bottom two clubs Ascoli and Parma could only serve up an uninspiring goalless draw to further dent both sides' faint hopes of beating the drop. Ascoli's chances of claiming all three points were dealt a severe blow when Massimo Bonanni received his marching orders after 57 minutes, but, in truth, it was a game that neither side deserved to win. Claudio Ranieri Parma have now drawn their last two games and are four points away from safety.

Siena 0-0 Livorno
Siena stuttered to their fifth game without a win after playing out a listless draw with Livorno at Stadio Artemio Franchi. Siena had the best of what chances their were in a poor Tuscany derby, with Christian Molinaro a constant thorn in Livorno's side with a series of raids down the left wing. Francesco Cozza and Luca Antonini came close to breaking the deadlock in Siena's favour with efforts either side of the break, but both were unlucky to see their shots come crashing back off the woodwork. The result continues Siena's abysmal run at home, with the Bianconeri having won on only two occasions as hosts all season.

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