Sunday, 13 January 2008

Serie A Week 18: Sunday Review

Alexandre Pato scored in his much-anticipated Serie A debut as Milan's three-pronged Brazilian attack of the 18-year-old, Ronaldo and Kaka overwhelmed Napoli 5-2. Inter secured a hard-fought and controversial 3-2 victory at Siena, but Roma, Udinese and Fiorentina also win on their travels. Genoa placed more misery on Lazio and Sampdoria tharshed Palermo 3-0.

Alexandre Pato made an immediate impact on the Serie A stage as Milan stormed to a 5-2 victory against Napoli. The youngster's debut did not disappoint, although it was his compatriot Ronaldo's first two goals of the season which ended Napoli's challenge and recorded Milan's first home win of the season. Ronaldo opened the scoring, but the visitors reacted well and Roberto Sosa grabbed an equaliser in the 28th minute. Clarence Seedorf restored Milan's lead three minutes later, but a penalty from Maurizio Domizzi saw Napoli go in at the break on level terms before the home side ran rampage in the second half. Ronaldo and Kaka put the result beyond doubt before Pato added the icing in the 74th minute with his first goal for the Rossoneri. Napoli's miserable evening was completed with the dismissal of Walter Gargano.

Inter maintained their seven-point cushion at the top of Serie A with a 3-2 victory over Siena in an enthralling encounter. Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored from the spot to give the visitors the lead but Massimo Maccarone brought the hosts back into the match. The Nerazzurri regained the advantage through Esteban Cambiasso on the stroke of half-time and Ibrahimovic then grabbed a stunning second shortly after the restart. A late strike from Fernando Forestieri ensured a nervy finish for the defending champions, but they clung on for their 14th win of the season. Siena, however, continue to struggle at the wrong end of the table after just two victories in 18 attempts this season.

Roma came from behind to beat Atalanta 2-1 and remain seven points behind league leaders Inter. Ferreira Pinto fired the hosts in front on 17 minutes before Francesco Totti equalised with a powerful free-kick seven minutes before the break. Amantino Mancini put the Romans in front on the stroke of half-time and the Giallorossi held on to inflict a second home defeat of the season on Atalanta. The win sees Roma move three points clear of Juventus, who had moved ahead of Luciano Spalletti's men on goal difference following their 1-1 draw at Catania on Saturday.

Rock-bottom Cagliari failed to make use of their numerical advantage as they fell to their fifth consecutive Serie A defeat, 1-0 against 10-man Udinese. New Rossoblu coach Davide Ballardini was hoping to get his reign off to the perfect start and when Dias Dalbello Felipe was sent off for the visitors after half an hour it looked like a shock result could be on the cards. But Fabio Quagliarella put Udinese in front just two minutes later and, despite spells of intense pressure, Cagliari could not find the equaliser. To add insult to injury, the hosts were also reduced to 10 men when Joaquin Larrivey was given his marching orders in the last minute.

Adrian Mutu came back to haunt former club Parma after his late penalty gave Fiorentina a well-deserved 2-1 win. The Romanian striker had put Fiorentina ahead two minutes before the break but Ferdinand Coly equalised for the home side midway through the second period. However, with five minutes remaining Christian Vieri was bundled over in the box by Stefano Morrone and Mutu fired home the resulting penalty to give Fiorentina the win and keep them fifth in Serie A.

Antonio Cassano inspired Sampdoria to their fifth home win of the season, 3-0 against Palermo. The Samp striker created two goals before netting one himself late on, and fully deserved his standing ovation as he left the field five minutes before the end. He set up strike-partner Claudio Bellucci for his ninth goal of the season in the 20th minute and was involved in the build-up to the second, scored by Paolo Sammarco on the stroke of half-time. His 77th-minute strike confirmed the home side's dominance against the previously in-form Sicilians, and allowed the Blucerchiati to close to within a point of their opponents in the race for a place in Europe next season.

Marco Borriello scored twice in the second half to give Genoa a narrow 2-1 win over Lazio at the Stadio Olimpico. Stefano Mauri put the hosts in front midway through the first half but Borriello led the Genoa fightback. He struck his first in the 50th minute from the penalty spot after Gugliermo Stendardo was adjudged to have clipped Omar Milanetto inside the area. And the visitors' top scorer completed the comeback by thundering home a header five minutes later. The win was Genoa's second away from home this season and saw them climb to 11th position in the standings. As for Lazio and coach Delio Rossi, their troubles continued. The defeat relegated them to 14th in the table, just four points clear of the drop zone.

Livorno claimed a priceless three points in their bid to pull clear of the relegation zone after a battling 2-1 win at fellow strugglers Torino. Francesco Tavano was the hero for the visitors, netting twice in the opening 45 minutes to set Livorno on the way to their third away win of the season and fourth in total. Davide Bottone pulled one back for Torino 12 minutes from full-time, but it failed to spark a fightback from the hosts who slip below Livorno and into 16th place, two points above the drop zone.

[Saturday 12 Jan] - [Sunday 13 Jan]

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