Sunday, 9 March 2008

Serie A Week 27: Sunday Review

Francesco Totti marked his 500th Roma game by helping his side to a win in Naples to keep the Scudetto race open. Elsewhere, late goals gave AC Milan a 3-1 success at Empoli, a victory which reduced Fiorentina's hold on fourth place following the Viola's loss at Siena. Juventus secured a win over Genoa in the evening.

Roma kept up the pressure at the top of the Serie A standings with a convincing 2-0 victory at the expense of Napoli. Simone Perrotta broke the deadlock early on and Francesco Totti added a penalty at the start of the second half to earn Luciano Spalletti's men their third victory in seven days and their first away success since January 13 when they beat Atalanta. The result allows Roma to close the gap on leaders Inter to six points, but Napoli's hopes of a European place suffered a setback with the team now seven points adrift of sixth-placed Udinese with 11 matches remaining.

AC Milan scored two late goals to defeat battling Empoli 2-1 at a wet Stadio Castellani. The visitors took the lead through youngster Alexandre Pato before Empoli captain Antonio Busce pulled the hosts level minutes later. Claudio Marchisio hit the post for the Azzurri before the Rossoneri broke the hosts' resistance with goals by Massimo Ambrosini and Ricardo Kaka in the last five minutes. The win keeps the Rosonerri fifth, but they are now just one point behind fourth-placed Fiorentina.

Siena dealt a blow to Fiorentina's hold on the final Champions League qualifying berth with a narrow win over their Tuscan rivals. Massimo Maccarone was both hero and villain for the hosts, scoring the winner after 80 minutes but subsequently being sent off when he collected a second yellow card for taking his shirt off during his celebrations. Fiorentina's defeat, coupled with victory for Milan at Empoli, cuts their advantage over the Rossoneri in the battle for fourth place to just one point. Victory for Siena, meanwhile, sees them put some daylight between themselves and the relegation zone in 13th place.

Juventus bounced back from last weekend's defeat to Fiorentina by consolidating third place with a victory at Genoa. Zdenek Grygera put the Bianconeri ahead in the 25th minute and then turned provider for David Trezeguet to settle matters eight minutes later. Genoa fought valiantly and hit the post through Marco Borriello early in the second half, but the damage had been done by Juve's first two shots on goal, which were enough to earn the visitors all three points. The win moves Juve four points clear of Fiorentina, who were beaten 1-0 at Siena, while Genoa sit ninth.

Sampdoria overcame the absence of Antonio Cassano to register a battling 2-1 victory against Parma at the Stadio Ennio Tardini. Goals from Christian Maggio and Emiliano Bonazzoli secured the points for a Samp side shorn of their star striker after he was hit with a five-game ban for throwing his shirt at the referee in the game with Torino last week. Struggling Parma were unlucky to come away with a defeat following a gutsy display that saw them pull a goal back through Igor Budan midway through the second half. Andrea Gasbarroni had earlier missed a penalty for the hosts while they trailed by just a single goal. Victory for Walter Mazzarri's Samp moves them onto 39 points and still well in the mix for a European berth, while defeat for Parma drops them a place to 17th in the table.

Two first-half goals gave Lazio a comfortable 2-0 victory against struggling Livorno, lifting them further from the relegation zone. A Tommaso Rocchi strike put the Romans in front before Goran Pandev added a second and had it not been for in-form goalkeeper Marco Amelia, the scoreline could have been worse for the visitors. The outcome means Lazio climb to 11th in the standings, eight points above the drop zone. Defeat in the Italian capital for the Amarento leaves them just one point clear of the relegation places.

Simone Barone's first goal for Torino extended their unbeaten Serie A run to eight games at the expense of visiting Atalanta. The 29-year-old got the final touch from a cross as half-time approached, and a minute later an Atalanta recovery was made more difficult when Argentinian defender Maximiliano Pellegrino received a red card for a tackle from behind on David Di Michele. Cristiano Doni did hit the crossbar for Atalanta but Torino dominated the second half. Although they failed to extend their lead, Toro nevertheless condemned Atalanta to their third consecutive away loss. The Bergamo side are now six points away from Udinese in sixth place, the last UEFA Cup qualifying spot.

Catania halted their slide towards relegation with a crucial 2-1 win against fellow strugglers Cagliari. The Sicilian outfit had slipped into the bottom three following defeat at Livorno last weekend, their ninth consecutive league game without success. And when Cagliari top scorer Daniele Conti gave the visitors a 21st-minute lead it looked as though Silvio Baldini's team would find no respite from their troubles. Cagliari, however, have not tasted an away success since the opening day of the season and their travel bug bit in quick succession either side of half-time when Cristian Silvestri equalised after 43 minutes before Michele Canini's own goal two minutes after the restart consigned them to defeat. The victory allowed the Elefanti to move up to 15th, two points clear of the drop zone, while the Rossoblu remained marooned at the foot of the table seven points from safety.

[Saturday 8 Mar] - [Sunday 9 Mar]

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