Saturday, 7 April 2007

Serie A Wk 31: Review

Saturday 7 April
Reggina 0-0 Inter
Champions-in-waiting Inter failed to get maximum points for only the fifth time in the league this season after being held to a goalless draw by relegation-threatened Reggina. Roberto Mancini's side had won 25 and drawn four of their 29 games going into the clash at the Stadio Oreste Granillo, scoring 63 goals in the process, but could not find a way past a Reggina team fighting to save their Serie A lives. The San Siro club have had the Serie A title sewn up for some time and still lead second-placed Roma by a massive 18 points, but the point could prove invaluable for Reggina in their battle to beat the drop. They are a point above the relegation zone but still have plenty to do to avoid the drop in a season where they have been handicapped by an 11-point deduction.

Catania 0-2 Roma
Roma took a small chunk out of Inter's huge lead at the top of Serie A with a smash-and-grab 2-0 win over luckless Catania. Goals in either half from Francesco Tavano and Mirko Vucinic were enough to seal the win, which cut Inter's lead to 18 points. While it is only a matter of time before the Milan club retain their Scudetto, at least Luciano Spalletti's men have kept the title race alive for another week after some exceptional goalkeeping from Gianluca Curci. Catania, meanwhile, are not out of the relegation picture and despite playing well they could not make the most of their opportunities and are now seven points from the drop zone after Parma's win.

Lazio 1-0 Messina
Lazio extended their winning run to eight games with a hard-fought 1-0 win over Messina at the Stadio Olimpico. A Guglielmo Stendardo goal just before the interval was enough for Delio Rossi's men to cement their hold on third place. Messina played much of the second half with just 10 men following Vincent Candela's naive red card, but Lazio could not take advantage and showed tired legs towards the end. Lazio keep up the pressure on city rivals Roma, who remain seven points ahead of the Biancocelesti, while Messina remain inside the bottom three.

Palermo 1-3 Cagliari
Cagliari piled the misery on misfiring Palermo with a 3-1 win at the Stadio Renzo Barbera. David Suazo was the hero for the struggling Sardinians with two goals, although a red card for Palermo defender Giuseppe Biava effectively made the difference. The home side had gone ahead through Mark Bresciano after just three minutes, but Biava received his marching orders as he gave away a 28th minute penalty, which Suazo converted for his first of the game. Cagliari tired out their depleted opponents and finally broke through to lead 2-1 when Simone Pepe scored in the 82nd minute, and Suazo sealed the win five minutes from time to take Cagliari well clear of the relegation zone.

Milan 3-1 Empoli
AC Milan saw off surprise packages Empoli in some style to boost their campaign for a top four finish. Ronaldo opened the scoring after 12 minutes for Milan before Luca Saudati equalised for Empoli after 43 minutes. Alberto Gilardino almost immediately restored the Rossoneri's lead before Giuseppe Favalli made it 3-1 in the second half for Carlo Ancelotti's side who are now on the shoulders of fourth-placed Palermo. Empoli, under coach Luigi Cagni, have been the surprise packages of the season in Italy and are still in the running to gain a European place next season.

Fiorentina 4-0 Ascoli
A dominant Fiorentina shrugged off Serie A's bottom club Ascoli with an easy win at the Stadio Artemio Franchi. Ascoli belied their position at the bottom of the table with a spirited performance, but were delivered a lesson in finishing by the home side, who never looked in any danger as soon as Reginaldo Ferreira put them in front after five minutes. Riccardo Montolivo fired in a second in first-half stoppage time and further goals from Luca Toni (56) and Per Kroldrup (72) consolidated their advantage. The Viola keep up the pressure on AC Milan while Ascoli are now seven points adrift at the bottom and need a miracle to escape relegation.

Sampdoria 1-0 Torino
Sampdoria returned to winning ways with a 1-0 triumph over Torino at the Stadio Luigi Ferraris. Emiliano Bonazzoli cut short a two-month goal drought by notching the matchwinner in the 16th minute. Torino ended the game with 10 men when Roberto Muzzi was sent off late on, while Samp had a goal from Gennaro Delvecchio disallowed in the last minute. But Bonazzoli's strike was enough to keep the Blucerchiati in the hunt for a UEFA Cup spot next season.

Siena 2-2 Udinese
Siena overturned a two-goal deficit to claim a crucial point in their battle against relegation with a 2-2 draw at home to Udinese. Antonio Di Natale put the visitors ahead just before the break and his strike-partner Vicenzo Iaquinta doubled their lead on the hour mark. There did not appear to be a way back into the game for Siena, until Massimo Maccarone headed in after 76 minutes. Five minutes later, Paolo Negro grabbed the equaliser to earn the Bianconeri a point, which takes them six points clear of the relegation zone, but means Udinese lose ground on the top seven.

Parma 1-0 Livorno
Parma's hopes of avoiding relegation were given a real shot in the arm as on-loan striker Giuseppe Rossi scored a last-gasp winner to sink visitors Livorno. Rossi, borrowed from Manchester United earlier this year, had said during the week that it was essential for his club to take six points from the next two matches. And his late strike - coming after Livorno had been reduced to 10 men by the sending-off of Cesar - means that the first part of that deal has successfully been concluded. Parma remain in the bottom three but could be out of the danger zone soon if they can keep up their current form since Claudio Ranieri took over as boss.

Atalanta 1-0 Chievo
Nine-man Chievo missed the chance to steal a march on their relegation rivals when they went down to a 1-0 defeat at Atalanta that was a tale of two penalties and three red cards. Cristiano Doni converted successfully early in the first half for Atalanta - who must now consider themselves safe from the drop - after a foul which had led to the dismissal of Lorenzo D'Anna. In the closing minutes, Chievo got the chance to even things up after a foul that saw Simone Loria dispatched to the dressing rooms but Alex Calderoni parried Victor Obinna's spot kick. There was still time for Luciano to get the red card in the closing minutes to leave Chievo with nine men.

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