Sunday, 20 January 2008

Serie A Week 19: Sunday Review

Two late strikes by Zlatan Ibrahimovic gave Inter a 3-2 success against Parma and kept them seven points clear of Roma, who were 2-0 winners against Catania. Elsewhere, Juventus were held to a 0-0 draw, Alberto Gilardino came off the bench for a late winner, Siena stunned Palermo and Napoli held Lazio.

Inter maintained their seven-point lead at the top of Serie A on Sunday night after a stirring comeback saw them beat Parma 3-2 at the San Siro. With 87 minutes gone, the Nerazzurri were 2-1 down - goals from Luca Cigarini and Andrea Gasbarroni overturning Esteban Cambiasso's opener for the hosts - and on the brink of losing their unbeaten record in the league. But referee Andrea Gervasoni adjudged Fernando Couto to have handled Zlatan Ibrahimovic's shot on the line, an offence for which the veteran defender was sent off, and the Sweden striker slotted home the spot-kick to make it 2-2. Ibrahimovic then netted again deep into stoppage time to send the home crowd wild.

Second-placed Roma enjoyed a 2-0 win over Catania earlier in the day to temporarily close the gap on Inter to four points. Ludovic Giuly opened the scoring for Roma at the Stadio Olimpico inside the opening ten minutes before Daniele De Rossi made it 2-0 from the penalty spot on the hour mark after Christian Terlizzi had brought down Rodrigo Taddei inside the box.

Second-half substitute Alberto Gilardino struck in stoppage time to claim a valuable win for AC Milan at Udinese. The home side, who were in the top four before the clash, are one of the teams Milan are chasing in a bid to get into the Champions League qualifying spots and they looked to have secured a point. But Gilardino, who had replaced Ronaldo eight minute earlier, curled the ball into the back of the net for his sixth goal of the season to secure all three points for the Rossoneri. The result sees Udinese fall to fifth place after Fiorentina won on Saturday to leapfrog them in the standings. As for Milan, the outcome sees them climb to ninth, 10 points behind the Viola - but with three games in hand.

Juventus saw their faint title hopes fade further as they were held to a frustrating 0-0 draw by stubborn Sampdoria. Claudio Ranieri's side failed to score at the Stadio Olimpico for the first time since September as the visitors brought to an end a run of four straight away defeats. The hosts dominated possession but could not turn their superiority into goals as their opponents shut out the division's 13-goal leading scorer David Trezeguet. Third-placed Juve now trail leaders Inter by 12 points and their dreams of a Scudetto on their first season back in the top flight look all but over.

Marek Hamsik's last-gasp goal, seconds after his side had been reduced to 10 men, secured a 2-2 draw for Napoli against Lazio, who will now be looking nervously over their shoulders. Hamsik had put the hosts ahead in the fifth minute but two goals in four minutes from Cristian Ledesma and Goran Pandev gave Lazio the lead on the half-hour mark. The superb form of 43-year-old Lazio keeper Marco Ballotta kept Napoli at bay and when Manuele Blasi was sent off in injury time it looked as if the Romans had won but, with seconds to go to full-time, Hamsik netted the equaliser. In a pulsating end to the match Lazio defender Guglielmo Stendardo was also given his marching orders.

Struggling Siena grabbed three surprise points in a pulsating game at Palermo. Amauri put the Sicilians ahead in the fourth minute, but Tomas Locatelli offered an immediate response and Massimo Maccarone completed the turnaround just five minutes later. Fabrizio Miccoli missed a penalty after 15 minutes but made amends when he slotted home a second spot-kick to level after 76 minutes. But Palermo again proved vulnerable immediately after scoring and Simone Loria took full advantage. The win was enough to lift Siena out of the relegation zone, but the signs are ominous for Palermo, who have now shipped six goals in two games.

Franco Brienza scored on his debut to send Reggina on their way to victory against basement boys Cagliari. The striker signed from Palermo this week and wasted no time in notching his first goal for his new club to condemn their Sardinian opponents to a sixth straight Serie A defeat. Francesco Cozza made the result safe with ten minutes remaining as Reggina outclassed the visitors in every area. Cagliari are now in dire straights six points adrift at the foot of the table and club President Massimo Cellino admitted before the game that he is very concerned and hoping to sign reinforcements in the transfer window. Reggina have also struggled to find any sort of consistency this season and find themselves languishing in 18th place.

Livorno striker Francesco Tavano came back to haunt his old club once again as he scored the only goal of the game to send Empoli back into the relegation zone. With both sides fighting to distance themselves from the relegation zone, the Tuscan derby was always going to be a tight affair. But the former Empoli star, who spent five years at the club, slotted home a penalty in the 51st minute to send Livorno to only their second home win of the season.

[Saturday 19 Jan] - [Sunday 20 Jan]

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