Wednesday, 26 September 2007

Serie A Week 5: Midweek Review

Serie A leaders Roma were held to an entertaining 2-2 draw at Fiorentina on the first midweek round of the season. Champions Inter went joint top, while city rivals Milan slumped to a dramatic defeat at Palermo and Juventus thrashed Reggina. Elsewhere there were wins for Catania, Genoa, Lazio, Napoli and Parma.

Fiorentina twice came from behind to earn a point in an exciting encounter against Serie A leaders Roma at the Stadio Artemio Franchi. Both teams battled to the end of an entertaining clash which was packed with chances and end-to-end football. Alessandro Mancini opened the scoring for the visitors in the 19th minute, only for Fiorentina to level through Alessandro Gamberini six minutes later. Eight minutes before half-time, Roma were back in front thanks to Ludovic Giuly. The fourth name on the scoresheet was that of Adrian Mutu, who equalised from the penalty spot after Christian Vieri had been clearly fouled by Matteo Ferrari 10 minutes from time. The Viola finished the game with 10 men after Marco Donadel was sent off for a second bookable offence in the 85th minute but they held on for a point.

Inter warmed up for Saturday afternoon's top-of-the-table clash with Roma by brushing Sampdoria aside 3-0 at the San Siro. Without having to be at their best, Roberto Mancini's side were able to put three past their opponents, who were made to pay dearly for some uncharacteristically sloppy defending. With two goals, Zlatan Ibrahimovic took his tally for the season to six before Luis Figo rounded off the scoring with over half-an-hour remaining. Samp were able to give Antonio Cassano another 40 minutes of action, but he could not make the difference for the Genovese side, who are without a win since the opening day of the season.

Milan's early season woes in Serie A continued as they were surprisingly defeated 2-1 away to Palermo despite taking an early lead through Clarence Seedorf. The Rossoneri, who have won just once in five games, wasted dozens of clear opportunities to score and were made to pay for their profligacy with late goals from Aimo Diana and Fabrizio Miccoli, the latter in added time. The European champions, who are already five points off the Serie A lead, host Catania on Sunday in a must win game.

Juventus gave another demonstration that they are title contenders with a 4-0 demolition of Reggina to set themselves up well for the impending city derby with Torino. Reggina defended stoutly to keep their goal intact for the first half but Juventus took command after the break. Nicola Legrottaglie and Hasan Salihamidzic netted in quick succession after the interval to give Claudio Ranieri's men a winning position they defended with little difficulty. David Trezeguet and Raffaele Palladino then added later goals to emphasise the superiority of a team who are looking top-flight heavyweights once more after serving an enforced one-year absence from Serie A for their part in the Calciopoli scandal.

Newly-promoted Napoli moved to within a point of the Serie A summit after Roberto Sosa's late goal saw off Livorno at the Stadio San Paolo. Sosa struck with three minutes to go to hand their hosts their third win in five games and sink a Livorno side who remain rooted inside the relegation zone. Napoli certainly deserved the victory and were only denied a more convincing win by some wayward finishing and a virtuoso performance from Livorno keeper Marco Amelia.

Tommaso Rocchi scored twice as Lazio secured their first Serie A victory of the season at the expense of Cagliari in Rome. Rocchi, who was left out of the starting line-up in the 2-1 defeat at Atalanta on Sunday, struck twice in the second half to take his goal tally to five in all competitions this season. Rocchi's strike partner Goran Pandev was also on the scoresheet to ensure the Biancoceleste shrugged off the tag of draw specialists and consigned Cagliari to their first defeat on the road this season.

Marco Borriello scored a hat-trick as Genoa won their first game of the season, beating Udinese 3-2 at the Stadio Luigi Ferraris despite having only 10 men for much of the second half. The former Milan striker is the only Genoa player to have scored this season, having now done so four times, and he could even have had more as he hit the woodwork twice. His first goal put promoted Genoa ahead after 20 minutes and he doubled the lead two minutes into the second half. Genoa goalkeeper Rubinho was sent off minutes later and Gyan Asamoah promptly reduced the arrears before Borriello restored the two-goal lead from the penalty spot. Udinese's reaction was immediate once again with Giandomenico Mesto bringing them back to within one goal with just under 15 minutes remaining, but Genoa held on to their first Serie A triumph in over 12 years.

Parma built on their weekend draw with Milan as two goals in two second-half minutes earned them victory over Torino. Reginaldo opened the scoring just after the hour mark, before Bernardo Corradi settled the contest shortly after, both goals coming from defensive mistakes by Torino. Parma coach Domenico Di Carlo had urged his side not to let their valuable point at the San Siro go to their heads, but in the end it turned out to be their visitors who had other things on their minds, with Walter Novellino's men seemingly thinking about Sunday's Turin derby with Juventus. The defeat means that Novellino - who had to watch the game from the stand following a touchline ban - is still without a win since taking control at the helm of Torino in the summer.

Catania won their first game of the season and left Empoli still searching for theirs with a narrow triumph at the Stadio Massimino. Jorge Martinez's goal three minutes into the second half was enough to give the Sicilians their first home victory since February and take them out of the bottom three, leaving Empoli joint-bottom of the Serie A standings. The game ended with two red cards, one on either side, but referee Luca Marelli brought the proceedings to a close before the game could deteriorate into an all-out brawl in the centre of the field.

Cristiano Doni's second-half penalty ensured Atalanta grabbed a draw at Siena to keep their unbeaten run intact. The team from Bergamo made great strides under Stefano Colantuono last season and his successor Luigi Del Neri looks to be building on the good work following his predecessor's departure to Palermo. Simone Loria had opened the scoring in the first half for Siena but Doni's spot-kick after the break ensured Atalanta have won two and drawn three of their five Serie A matches this season.

[Wednesday 26 Sep]

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