Monday, 2 February 2009

Beckham puts Milan second as top guns have trouble at home

Our man in Italy Kris Voakes reports on all the main Week 22 action in Serie A including how David Beckham inspired AC Milan to a victory at Lazio that moves them into second spot.

The topsy-turvy Scudetto race negotiated a new chicane this weekend with Milan the only title-chasers earning three points, thanks mainly to the continued good form of David Beckham.

Beckham provided assists for the Rossoneri's first two goals in a 3-0 win at crisis club Lazio to move Milan to within six points of neighbours Inter. First he narrowly sprung the offside trap to provide a low cross for Alexandre Pato to convert, then swung in a free-kick for Massimo Ambrosini to head in at the far post. Ricardo Kakà added a late third after a good passing move which prompted many Biancocelesti followers to give up and go home. They have now seen their side concede 10 goals in three games and there were calls for both president Claudio Lotito and coach Delio Rossi to leave the club before Kakà goal sparked the mass exodus.

Beckham's performance sealed him a place in the Milan squad for the UEFA Cup, despite the fact his loan deal is due to expire before the quarter-final stage gets underway. Milan director-general Adriano Galliani has reiterated his desire for the England international to stay in Italy long term and has said the club will wait for "as long as is necessary" for Beckham and his club LA Galaxy to come to a decision on his future. Il Diavolo coach Carlo Ancelotti said after the win in Rome that Lo Spice's inclusion in the UEFA squad was reward for his excellent recent form, which has all but guaranteed him a place in Fabio Capello's England team against Spain on Wednesday week.

Milan jumped into second place due to Juventus' shock 3-2 home defeat against Cagliari on Saturday night. Juve had come from behind with goals from Momo Sissoko and the evergreen Pavel Nedved, but Brazilian front man Jeda equalised, adding to Davide Biondini's earlier strike, and then Alessandro Matri broke through to beat Gigi Buffon and give the Sardinians all three points. Juve have now gone from top to third in the space of eight days thanks to two successive defeats.

The Bianconeri lost only one point on leaders Inter though as the Nerazzurri drew 1-1 at home to Torino. Rolando Bianchi gave Toro the lead straight after the restart, but Nicolas Burdisso's header levelled, maintaining Jose Mourinho's remarkable record of taking his teams on a 109-game unbeaten home record in league matches. His last defeat came with Beira Mar in March 2002 and he has never tasted defeat on home soil with Porto, Chelsea or with Inter so far, although next up at the San Siro for the Champions is the Derby della Madonnina in two weeks.

Roma were another big name to drop points in their 2-2 draw at rain-soaked Reggina. David Pizarro hit a brace for the Giallorossi in response to Rolando Bianchi's first-half penalty, but Simone Loria's mistake from a driven cross by Bruno Cirillo allowed Cicco Cozza to rescue a late point for the basement boys. It was Loria's first touch having just been brought on to shore up the Roma defence!

Genoa took their lead over Roma in the Champions League race to three points with a late win over Palermo at the Marassi. Domenico Criscito tapped in on 88 minutes to give the the Grifone a deserved victory. Napoli squandered a two-goal lead to Udinese at San Paolo in a game which featured a goal of the season contender from Fabio Quagliarella. Ezequeil Lavezzi and Marek Hamsik had put Napoli in command, but Antonio Di Natale hit back from the spot for the Friulani before Quagliarella's superb volley rescued a point.

Bologna and Fiorentina will reconvene on Monday afternoon after their match at Renato Dall'Ara was postponed at short notice due to snow after a wretched day weather-wise in Emilia-Romagna.


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