Saturday, 3 April 2010

Serie A - Week 32: Saturday Review

It was a case of as you were in the Serie A title race after the Scudetto contenders Inter, Roma and Milan all won on a busy day of Easter action. Sampdoria joined Palermo in fourth spot, while Juventus lost again and Napoli drew.

Inter 3-0 Bologna
Inter cruised to a comfortable victory at the San Siro to bounce back from last week's defeat at Roma and retain their narrow lead at the top of Serie A. A fine strike from midfielder Thiago Motta had put the Nerazzurri a goal to the good at the break before Mario Balotelli marked his return to the squad by adding the second, and Motta sealed the win with his second late on. Last week's defeat in Rome had left Jose Mourinho's side with a one-point lead at the top of the table, and their build-up had not been helped by the former Chelsea boss claiming he does not enjoy coaching in Italy and a terse statement that he released criticising the media, which added fuel to rumours that he will leave the club in the summer. But all off-field speculation was put to one side as Inter dominated.

Bari 0-1 Roma
Roma kept the pressure on Inter with a single-goal victory at Bari which keeps them within a point of the Serie A leaders. Mirko Vucinic, back in the Roma side after an illness, netted the all-important goal after 19 minutes to keep Claudio Ranieri's men in the hunt for the title. The win also extended the Giallorossi's unbeaten record in the league to an impressive 22 games.

Cagliari 2-3 Milan
AC Milan had to hang on in the second half after twice surrendering the lead, but emerged from Cagliari with all three points to keep up with the pace in the Serie A title race. All five goals came in the first half as Daniele Ragatzu cancelled out Marco Borriello's opener before scoring again to level after Klaas Jan Huntelaar had put Milan back in front with a stunning strike. But Davide Astori's 38th-minute own goal proved to be the winner for Milan as Cagliari could not do anything with a string of second-half chances. The win keeps Leonardo's men three points behind city rivals and league leaders Inter, and two points behind Roma.

Udinese 3-0 Juventus
Udinese piled the misery on a misfiring Juventus with a crushing 3-0 victory at the Stadio Friuli to pull away from the danger zone at the bottom of Serie A. Udinese's three strikers Alexis Sanchez, Simone Pepe and Antonio Di Natale were all on target for the dominant hosts, who move four points clear of the bottom three and leave Juve three points behind the top four in seventh place and in danger of missing out on European qualification. Sanchez opened the scoring after nine minutes with Pepe adding a second after 65 minutes and Di Natale rounding off an excellent performance 15 minutes from time.

Catania 2-0 Palermo
Catania took another step towards Serie A survival with a 2-0 victory over Sicilian rivals Palermo at the Stadio Massimino. Maxi Lopez scored both goals for the Rosazzurri in the first half as they dented their neighbours' hopes of qualifying for the Champions League next season and gave themselves a seven-point cushion over the bottom three with six games remaining. Palermo remained fourth in the table, although they are now level on 51 points with Sampdoria.

Chievo 1-2 Sampdoria
Sampdoria maintained their push for a top-four finish in Serie A with a hard-fought 2-1 win over 10-man Chievo at the Stadio Marc'Antonio Bentegodi. Antonio Cassano set Samp on their way with a first-minute goal and Giampaolo Pazzini gave the visitors breathing space with a second 10 minutes after the interval. The hosts' cause was not helped by the dismissal of defender Santiago Morero for a second bookable offence midway through the second half. Andrea Mantovani did pull one back for the Flying Donkeys 14 minutes from time but it was not enough as Sampdoria held on. The result saw Luigi Del Neri's men climb into fifth, level on 51 points with fourth-placed Palermo.

Lazio 1-1 Napoli
Champions League hopefuls Napoli were held to a draw by Lazio in Rome. Marek Hamsik levelled for the visitors seven minutes before half-time after Sergio Floccari had opened the scoring after four minutes for 16th-placed Lazio. Both teams had chances to claim all three points but were unable to find the finishing touch in an open game at the Stadio Olimpico. The outcome left Napoli sixth in the standings, two points behind fourth-placed Palermo and fifth-placed Sampdoria. Lazio drop to 17th and only three points clear of the bottom three with six games of the Serie A season remaining.

Parma 1-1 Fiorentina
Parma came from behind to claim a 1-1 Serie A draw with Fiorentina which hit the Viola's hopes of European qualification. Lorenzo De Silvestri put the visitors ahead after 22 minutes, but Valeri Bojinov equalised after 68 minutes. The result leaves Fiorentina in eighth place with six matches remaining and did little for Parma's own slim prospects of a place in the Europa League next term.

Atalanta 2-0 Siena
Atalanta kept alive their hopes of staying in Serie A with a convincing 2-0 victory over fellow strugglers Siena. Jaime Valdes opened the scoring after 16 minutes before Ferreira Pinto doubled the advantage with 20 minutes to go. The outcome left Atalanta in 18th place and three points off Lazio who hold the last position of safety. Siena are level with bottom club Livorno, eight points from safety with only six games remaining.

Genoa 1-1 Livorno
Livorno dented Genoa's hopes of playing in Europe again next season as they grabbed a late equaliser to take a share of the spoils in a draw at the Stadio Luigi Ferraris. Genoa debutant Richmond Boakye put Genoa ahead after 51 minutes, but Livorno responded well and ultimately deserved their equaliser from Francesco Tavano two minutes from time. Genoa lose ground on their city rivals Sampdoria, their opponents in the derby next week, in the race for a place in Europe next season while Livorno move level on points with Siena at the foot of the table - eight points off Serie A safety.

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