Sunday, 28 March 2010

Serie A - Week 31: Sunday Review

AC Milan passed up the opportunity to close on leaders Inter for the second weekend running as they were held to a 1-1 draw by Lazio to leave the Rossoneri three points off the pace in Serie A. Elsewhere Juventus bounced back to join Napoli and Sampdoria in the race to catch Palermo in fourth spot.

AC Milan 1-1 Lazio
AC Milan's title challenge stuttered once more as they were held to a draw at home to struggling Lazio. With leaders Inter losing at Roma on Saturday, the opportunity was there for Milan to move within a point of the Serie A summit. But not for the first time this season they blew it. They went ahead when Marco Borriello netted from the spot after 18 minutes but some lax defending allowed Stephan Lichtsteiner to equalise just after the half-hour mark. Milan huffed and puffed in the second half - with Luca Antonini hitting the underside of the crossbar - but Lazio deserved the point which moved them five points clear of the relegation zone.

Juventus 2-1 Atalanta
Felipe Melo headed an 82nd-minute winner as Juventus claimed a vital 2-1 victory over Atalanta following back-to-back league defeats. Juve's European ambitions had suffered two major setbacks after away defeats at Sampdoria and Napoli in the past seven days and it took the creative class of veteran striker Alessandro Del Piero to get them back to winning ways. The 35-year-old fired Juve ahead with a wonderful 30-yard free-kick on the half-hour and while Nicola Amoruso equalised before the break, it was Del Piero's pin-point cross that set up Melo to deliver the three points to the Turin giants. Juve's win moves them up to sixth and in possession of the final Europa League place, three points behind fourth-placed Palermo.

Sampdoria 1-1 Cagliari
Sampdoria slipped out of the Europa League spots after Nene's late leveller handed Cagliari a 1-1 draw at the Stadio Luigi Ferraris. The hosts were second best in the opening half but still managed to take the lead three minutes after the restart through Stefano Guberti. The visitors pushed for the equaliser and got the goal they deserved when Nene struck with nine minutes to go. The Brazilian, a second-half replacement for Joaquin Larrivey, finished the afternoon in disappointing fashion, however, when he was sent off for kicking out at Andrea Poli deep into injury time. Samp drop down to seventh, three points adrift of fourth-placed Palermo.

Napoli 1-0 Catania
Napoli moved up to fifth place in Serie A and maintained their challenge for Champions League qualification with a hard-fought 1-0 home win against spirited Catania. With Sampdoria failing to beat Cagliari at home, both Napoli and Juventus moved up a spot, although Palermo's win against Bologna ensured they still hold fourth spot by three clear points. Walter Mazzarri's side were worth their win against Catania, which came courtesy of captain Paolo Cannavaro's second-half strike, although the Sicilians had their share of chances.

Fiorentina 4-1 Udinese
A dominant Fiorentina brushed aside Serie A strugglers Udinese in the second half to prevail 4-1 at the Stadio Artemio Franchi. Simone Pepe's equaliser before the break cancelled out the opener that had been scored by Fiorentina's Juan Vargas. Udinese then received a lesson in finishing by the home side, who never looked in any danger as soon as Alberto Gilardino put them in front after 55 minutes. Mario Santana extended the Viola's lead shortly after before Stevan Jovetic made it 4-1 with six minutes remaining. The outcome has lifted Fiorentina to eighth in the standings and left them four points behind Juventus, who hold the last European qualifying spot. Udinese still hold the last position of safety, four points clear of 18th-place Atalanta.

Livorno 1-1 Bari
Francesco Tavano's late equaliser earned Serie A basement boys Livorno a valuable 1-1 draw against Bari. Riccardo Allegretti put the visitors ahead after 24 minutes and Bari almost doubled their lead when Livorno defender Nelson Rivas' poor clearance hit his own crossbar early in the second half, only for the ball to stay out. The lead appeared as if it would remain intact until Tavano came to the rescue by driving the ball past Jean Francois Gillet with five minutes remaining to hand his team a share of the spoils. Livorno still have a lot of work to do if they are to avoid the drop, the outcome leaving them seven points from safety with seven games left to play. The result extended Bari's unbeaten run to five games and lifted Giampiero Ventura's side to 10th place.

Siena 0-0 Genoa
Siena were left to rue a hatful of missed chances as they collected only a solitary point from a goalless draw against Genoa. The draw moved the hosts to within six points of fourth-bottom Udinese, who went down 4-1 at Fiorentina, but they will wonder how that gap is not four after dominating against Genoa this afternoon. Abdelkader Ghezzal came closest for Siena with an effort which hit the bar with the follow-up effort ruled out for offside. On another day the Algeria striker could have had a hat-trick as poor finishing and fine goalkeeping from Marco Amelia frustrated the Tuscans. The point also did little to boost Genoa's hopes of finishing in the top six, leaving them four points off Juventus, who hold the last Europa League place.

Chievo 0-0 Parma
Chievo failed to make the most of a number of chances as the Verona club attempted to make their Serie A status secure for another season. The home side went into the game needing three points to reach the 40 mark which is normally seen as enough to keep a side safe from relegation. But the Flying Donkeys again struggled in front of goal and coach Domenico Di Carlo's side face more nervous moments before the end of the season. They were up against a Parma side boosted by a 1-0 win over AC Milan in midweek but the visitors were also unable to take their chances in front of goal.

[Saturday 27 March] - [Sunday 28 March]

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