Sunday 17 February 2008

Serie A Week 23: Sunday Review

An inspirational Antonio Cassano helped Sampdoria to victory in the Derby della Lanterna, while Adrian Mutu's screamer helped Fiorentina move clear in fourth. Elsewhere, Empoli crumbled Napoli; and Lazio, Palermo and Udinese picked up vital wins.

A late goal from Christian Maggio was enough to give Sampdoria the honours in the Genoa derby on Sunday afternoon. The game appeared to be heading for a stalemate for the second time this season until the Samp midfielder popped up to score in the 87th minute after an Antonio Cassano assist. It was Maggio's fourth chance of a very close encounter, but his persistence paid off to earn the Blucerchiati three points and keep them on course for a place in Europe next season. Genoa played the last half an hour with 10 men after Sacramento Danilo was sent off for two bookable offences in the space of 12 minutes and there were nine other yellow cards in a game bubbling with aggression.

Fiorentina moved three points clear of AC Milan in fourth place thanks to a 2-1 defeat of Catania. Milan's goalless draw at Parma on Saturday had moved them level on points with Fiorentina but the Viola stole a march this afternoon. Zdravko Kuzmanovic headed Cesare Prandelli's side in front just before half-time after a Mario Alberto Santana cross. Against the run of play Juan Vargas equalised on the hour mark but with 21 minutes to go Adian Mutu embarked on a solo run and shot in from distance to secure all the points.

Udinese got back to winning ways as they sailed to a 3-1 victory at strugglers Reggina. Simone Pepe gave the visitors the perfect start in the eighth minute and, with Udinese in complete control, Antonio Di Natale doubled his side's lead shortly after the hour mark. Francesco Modesto pulled one back in the 75th minute to give the home side hope, but Di Natale sealed Udinese's victory in injury time. After two defeats on the trot, this was a massive boost to Udinese's hopes of a European spot.

A spirited second-half display earned Empoli a 3-1 win against nine-man Napoli, hugely boosting their survival hopes. Nicola Pozzi gave the visitors a first-half lead before Daniele Mannini equalised for Napoli shortly before half-time. Pozzi grabbed his second midway through the second half and Alessandro Badel made the points safe in the last 10 minutes. Empoli's Felice Piccolo and Napoli's Marcelo Zalayeta were sent off for clashing in the tunnel on the way back out for the second half, and Maurizio Domizzi also saw red for the hosts in the 74th minute when he hacked down Sebastian Giovinco, who was clean through on goal.

Lazio brushed aside Atalanta 3-0 to ease their relegation fears and move up to 12th spot in Serie A. Tommaso Rocchi opened the scoring from the penalty spot on 26 minutes after goalkeeper Ferdinando Coppola had brought down Thomas Manfredini. Goran Pandev added a second shortly before the hour mark before Rocchi killed the game off three minutes from time by again converting from the spot. The outcomes sees the Biancoceleste climb five points clear of the drop zone.

Palermo kept up the pressure on the teams in the UEFA Cup spots by seeing off rock-bottom Cagliari 2-1 in the Derby della Isole. Palermo's Edison Cavani had the unenviable honour of scoring at both ends as the home side ended a run of four defeats in five games to halt their recent free-fall down the table. The Uruguayan opened the scoring for the Sicilians after 23 minutes before Bosko Jankovic made it 2-0 on the stroke of half-time. Then in the second half a mix-up in the Palermo area led to Cavani putting through his own net to give the Sardinian visitors some hope when trying to head clear from a corner. Late on Francesco Guidolin was sent to the stands by the referee, who apparently deemed the Palermo coach's protests against a foul on Federico Balzaretti excessive.

Struggling Siena kept themselves out of the drop zone on goal difference after holding relegation rivals Torino to a goalless draw. The hosts racked up their seventh home draw of the season to move above Parma by one goal. Siena's last game in front of their own fans had ended in a 3-0 victory over title-chasing Roma, but those supporters had less to cheer this time as their side failed to break down a stubborn Torino oufit. The visitors are just four points above the bottom three.

[Saturday 16 Feb] - [Sunday 17 Feb]

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