Wednesday, 19 March 2008

Serie A Week 29: Midweek Review

Inter drew 1-1 at Genoa to extend their lead over title rivals Roma to seven points after the Giallorossi's last-minute derby defeat by Lazio. Elsewhere, AC Milan and Fiorentina both lost, Juventus were held and there were wins for Cagliari, Parma and Udinese.

Valon Behrami struck deep in stoppage time to hand Lazio victory over Roma in the Eternal City derby at the Stadio Olimpico on Wednesday night. With the game looking to be heading for a draw, Stefano Mauri fed Behrami inside the area and he struck the ball past goalkeeper Alexander Doni to seal the win. Rodrigo Taddei opened the scoring for Roma just after the half-hour mark before Goran Pandev equalised shortly before half-time. Tommaso Rocchi put Lazio in front in the 59th minute from the penalty spot before Simone Perrotta levelled four minutes later. The defeat leaves Roma seven points behind Inter.

Ten-man Inter dropped two points at Genoa - but Roberto Mancini's league leaders extended their lead over Scudetto rivals Roma to seven points. David Suazo put the Nerazzurri ahead after 11 minutes, but they were reduced to 10 men when Pele was sent off for a second yellow card five minutes before the interval. Inter had to defend for the entire second half as Genoa threw everything at Julio Cesar's goal, and they were rewarded with a goal five minutes from time from striker Marco Borriello.

AC Milan's frustrations at the San Siro continued as they slipped to defeat against Sampdoria. Two goals in the opening 25 minutes by Cristian Maggio and Gennaro Delvecchio put Samp in the driving seat, and although Milan pulled one back through Alberto Paloschi inside the final 20 minutes, Carlo Ancelotti's men failed to force an equaliser. Milan might have suspected they were in for a tough night when they lost Ricardo Kaka after just nine minutes, the Brazilian suffering a recurrence of his recent back injury. Samp's night also ended on a sour note when Stefano Lucchini saw red for picking up a second booking at the death. The defeat for the Rossoneri means they trail fourth-placed Fiorentina by four points, while Samp are a further point behind in sixth.

Ezequiel Lavezzi's first-half double proved enough for Napoli to claim what proved to be a comfortable victory against Champions League hopefuls Fiorentina. Despite pre-match warnings from Adrian Mutu that the Viola could not afford to be complacent, they were 2-0 down within 31 minutes, Lavezzi the man to claim both. And though the Viola created a number of second-half chances - the best of them a Mutu header which hit the bar - Napoli had just as many opportunities to extend their lead. With AC Milan also losing, the defeat was not as damaging as it might have been for Fiorentina, who remain in the Champions League places with a four-point cushion.

Relegation-threatened Empoli held Juventus to a goalless draw at the Stadio Castellani to avoid a fifth consecutive league defeat. Neither side really looked like making the breakthrough although Empoli were delighted with the result at the final whistle after keeping the visitors at bay with some fine defending.

An Igor Budan brace helped Parma to a last-gasp victory in new coach Hector Cuper's home debut as Palermo's hapless away from continued. The game did not start well for the Gialloblu as their hopes of getting an important result were dealt a severe blow when McDonald Mariga was sent off for a second bookable offence after 27 minutes. But the relegation-threatened side battled on and took a surprise lead through Budan seven minutes into the second-half. Edison Cavani netted the equaliser on 68 minutes as Palermo began to take control of the game but the Sicilians' attempt to end their three-game winless streak was thwarted just two minutes later when Andrea Barzagli was given his marching orders. And, with the numbers equal again, Parma upped the pressure on the visitors' net and snatched a late victory through Budan's injury-time penalty.

Simone Pepe's goal moved Udinese within two points of fifth-placed AC Milan with a 1-0 win at Torino, who are slipping closer to relegation danger after only one win in their last seven games. Toro were kept out by an inspired showing by Udinese goalkeeper Samir Handanovic, though David Di Michele hit the post against his former club. But the visitors held on for a win that takes them to 44 points, though they remain in seventh place behind Sampdoria who occupy the final UEFA Cup qualifying spot.

Basement club Cagliari claimed a welcome 1-0 win over 10-man Atalanta thanks to Robert Acquafresca's penalty. The visitors struggled to react after falling behind and had defender Moris Carrozzieri sent off for a second yellow card with 15 minutes remaining. The win, their fourth in six games, takes the Sardinian club to within four points of safety.

In-form striker Franco Brienza's third goal in two games saw Reggina secure a vital point at fellow strugglers Livorno. Brienza fired his side into the lead on 32 minutes but Erjon Bogdani pulled the hosts level just after the hour mark to see Livorno remain two points clear of their opponents who occupy the last relegation spot.

Catania slipped closer to the relegation zone as they were only held to a draw by fellow strugglers Siena. A second-half shot from Siena's Massimo Maccarone that hit the crossbar was the highlight of an uneventful match.

[Wednesday 19 Mar]

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