Sunday, 23 December 2007

Serie A Week 17: Sunday Review

Inter opened up a seven-point gap at the top of Serie A after defeating their city-rivals Milan 2-1. Elsewhere, Juventus defeated Siena 2-0, Cagliari's woes continued as they were thashed 5-1 at Fiorentina, and Napoli, Palermo and Udinese were all held to home draws.

Milan goalkeeper Dida gave Inter an early Christmas present as his howler handed the Nerazzurri a 2-1 victory in the 'Derby della Madonnina'. Inter are unstoppable in Serie A this season but the defending champions showed reverence to their city rivals as they welcomed the returning World Club Champions onto the pitch with a guard of honour. Milan took the lead after 17 minutes through Andrea Pirlo's stunning free-kick before Julio Cruz levelled the scores 10 minutes before the interval and Esteban Cambiasso was gifted his side's second on 63 minutes.

Juventus showed they are not to be ignored in the title race as they sailed to an easy 2-0 victory over relegation-threatened Siena. Hasan Salihamidzic opened the scoring in the 32nd minute before Serie A top scorer David Trezeguet added a second just before the hour mark to leave his side a point behind Roma and eight points behind runaway leaders Inter.

Udinese lost ground on Serie A's leading trio after a last-gasp goal from Lino Marzoratti secured a 2-2 draw for 10-man Empoli at the Stadio Friuli. The hosts took the lead through Andrea Dossena only for Andrea Raggi to restore parity after the interval. The match then appeared to be heading Udinese's way when first Francesco Pratali was sent off for the visitors before Antonio Di Natale found the target five minutes from time. But Empoli hit back against the odds with Marzoratti popping up late on to secure an unlikely point for Empoli and leave Udinese six points adrift of third-placed Juventus heading into the winter break.

Fiorentina finished off 2007 in style by ending their five-game winless streak with a thumping of struggling Cagliari. The home side took an early lead through Riccardo Montolivo before Michele Fini levelled the score just three minutes later. However, Adrian Mutu found the net five minutes before half-time and scored his second from the penalty spot in first-half stoppage time to give Fiorentina a 3-1 cushion at the break. Mario Alberto Santana then added a brace in the second half to finish off the visitors and get the Viola's push for fourth place back on track.

Lazio striker Igli Tare scored with 10 minutes remaining to rescue a 2-2 draw for the Biancoceleste in a bad-tempered match with Palermo at the Stadio Renzo Barbera. Palermo took the lead thanks to a first-half strike from Brazilian Fabio Simplicio and then moments after the break compatriot Amauri added a second. Fabio Firmani pulled one back for Lazio in the 59th minute before Amauri missed a penalty for the Rosanero and then Tare levelled in the 80th minute. The visitors though finished the game with nine men after Sebastiano Siviglia and Lorenzo De Silvestri were both shown red cards in the second half.

Torino produced a battling performance against Napoli to earn their sixth away draw of the season in a scrappy game at the Stadio San Paolo. Walter Novellino's side were reduced to 10 men when Vincenzo Grella was sent off for a second bookable offence moments before the half-time break. Alessandro Rosina had earlier given Toro the lead with a 36th-minute penalty while Napoli missed the chance to equalise from the spot when Maurizio Domizzi failed to convert shortly after the interval. However Marek Hamsik salvaged a point with a close-range finish in the 81st minute.

Luca Vigiani bagged a hat-trick as struggling Reggina signed off for the year with a welcome victory over 10-man Catania. Vigiani had just one Serie A goal to his name, but quadrupled his tally to dispatch the Sicilian side in emphatic fashion. He scored in the 34th and 78th minutes, before Gennaro Sardo's red card swung things even further in their favour. Juan Manuel Vargas grabbed one back in the dying moments, but Vigiani hit back with his third to stifle any thoughts of a dramatic late comeback.

Resurgent Livorno will spend the Christmas break outside the relegation zone after extending their unbeaten run to seven games with a hard-fought 1-1 draw against Atalanta. It could have been even sweeter for Giancarlo Camolese's side, but, having gone ahead through Fabio Galante's strike on 26 minutes, they were pegged back by a superb Fernando Tissone free-kick seven minutes later. Tissone then had several chances to put the visitors in front, but he failed and Atalanta were forced to settle for a point which leaves them two spaces adrift of sixth-placed Palermo.

The Serie A season now takes a two-week winter break and will resume again on 12 January 2008.

[Saturday 22 Dec] - [Sunday 23 Dec]

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