Sunday, 24 February 2008

Serie A Week 24: Sunday Review

Inter's lead in Serie A was reduced to nine points as the champions drew 1-1 at Sampdoria and second-placed Roma beat Fiorentina 1-0. Elsewhere, Milan moved up to fourth, Genoa won an eight-goal thriller in Udine and Napoli and Cagliari left it late.

Roma revived their Scudetto ambitions with a narrow 1-0 win over Fiorentina. Brazilian right-back Cicinho struck in the 54th minute to hand the Giallorossi three valuable points. Luciano Spalletti's side ended the game with 10 men after goalscorer Cicinho was sent off for a second booking with two minutes left. The clash at the Stadio Olimpico was all the more special for Giallorossi captain Francesco Totti, who equalled the club record of 386 league performances, held by Giacomino Losi. The visitors, who are chasing a Champions League spot, had to take Adrian Mutu off after he sprained his left knee on the stroke of half-time.

Inter's unbeaten record in Serie A this season survived a serious test from Sampdoria, with Roberto Mancini's side fortunate to escape Genoa with a 1-1 draw. Antonio Cassano put a dominant Samp ahead in the 65th minute, but Hernan Crespo replied 10 minutes later with just the Nerazzurri's second shot on goal to grab an undeserved draw. Cassano kept the champions on their toes all match and in this sort of form it would be hard for Italy coach Roberto Donadoni to justify leaving him out of his next squad. Inter, meanwhile, have now seen their lead cut to just nine points ahead of their head-to-head with Roma on Wednesday.

A last-gasp Filippo Inzaghi winner boosted Milan's hopes of securing a Champions League spot as they came from behind to secure a gritty victory over Palermo. Mark Bresciano gave Palermo the best possible start as he fired them in front on nine minutes but Massimo Ambrosini levelled the scores in the 25th minute. And the Rossoneri pressure eventually paid off as Inzaghi headed home in injury-time to snatch all three points for the hosts. But there could be bad news in store for Milan as Ricardo Kaka was forced off at half-time. The Brazilian, who only returned from an injury to his left knee a week ago, received treatment to the same joint following a tackle from Roberto Guana two minutes in. And, although the Brazil international battled on for the rest of the first half, he was replaced at the break.

Udinese were again left cursing Marco Borriello after the Genoa striker scored his second hat-trick of the season against the Zebrette to seal a thrilling victory. Genoa beat Udinese 3-2 at home in September with Borriello grabbing all three goals and he pounced yet again with a second-half hat-trick to leave the hosts without a win at the Stadio Friuli since the beginning of December. Udinese were on the back foot from the seventh minute thanks to Julio Cesar Leon, but two Antonio Di Natale spot-kicks saw them turn things around before Giuseppe Sculli ensured both teams were level at the break. Borriello then took centre stage with his first of three goals, a volleyed effort on 54 minutes, the pick of the bunch to ensure Floro Flores' 72nd-minute header was no more than consolation.

Napoli left it late to secure victory against lowly Livorno, as Emanuele Calaio scored in the final minute of injury time to give Edoardo Reja's side only their second away win of the season. Calaio opened the scoring for the visitors after 58 minutes, only for Livorno to pull level through Alessandro Diamanti with 16 minutes remaining. But the stand-in striker more than earned his inclusion in the side with a well-taken goal with the last kick of the game.

Two goals in three minutes from Sergio Floccari just before half-time earned Atalanta a share of the spoils at home to Siena. In a four-goal frenzy in the 13 minutes leading up to the break, Valerio Bertotto and Tomas Locatelli put Siena two goals up, only for Floccari's double to draw the hosts level. The second half failed to live up to the first, however, and chances were at a premium as neither side committed fully in the search for a winner.

Substitute Alessandro Matri poached a late winner for 10-man Cagliari against Lazio in Sardinia which gives them hope at the foot of Serie A. The 23-year-old headed in from an Alessandro Agostini cross two minutes from time for his sixth Serie A goal this season, which continued Lazio's winless away run. Michele Fini was shown a straight red card for the hosts with half-an-hour remaining for a violent foul on Gaby Mudingayi but Cagliari restricted their opponents enough to secure a win which takes them within four points of Serie A safety.

Relegation battlers Empoli notched up an impressive third consecutive victory as they beat Catania 2-0. Goals either side of the break from Sebastian Giovinco and Alessandro Budel were enough to see off the Sicilians, who missed a penalty through Gionatha Spinesi, in a highly-charged game. The defeat is Catania's fourth in a row and increases the pressure on coach Silvio Baldini as the Elefanti are now just a single point above the drop zone.

[Saturday 23 Feb] - [Sunday 24 Feb]

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