Sunday 27 April 2008

Serie A Week 35: Sunday Review

Inter can wrap up the Serie A title against city rivals AC Milan next week after maintaining their six-point lead with a 2-1 win against Cagliari. That match ought to be a thrilling encounter as Milan close in on for fourth spot following current incumbents Fiorentina's 2-2 draw against Sampdoria.

Serie A leaders Inter did what was expected of them by beating Cagliari at the San Siro - but the champagne is on ice for another week. Julio Cruz put them ahead in the first half, although there was some anxious moments before substitute Marco Materazzi got their second. Davide Biondini's replay for Cagliari was too late to make a difference. Yet the Nerazzurri were denied their third successive title by Roma's win against Torino. Six points clear with three games left, how the Inter faithful must be salivating at the thought of winning the Scudetto in the Milan derby next Sunday. The result leaves Cagliari just two points above the relegation zone with three games remaining.

Roma made good on their promise to keep the title race alive by thrashing Torino 4-1 to put pressure on leaders Inter. Needing to win in order to avoid handing the Serie A title to the Nerazzurri, Roma - who were without injured captain Francesco Totti - scored four goals in the space of 14 minutes to kill the game off in the opening half. David Pizarro opened the scoring in the 18th minute from the penalty spot before Mirko Vucinic doubled his team's lead two minutes later. Amantino Mancini made it 3-0 in the 25th minute and then netted his second shortly after the half-hour mark. Substitute Nicola Ventola reduced the deficit five minutes after the interval but the visitors could not make further inroads, even after Roma defender Juan was sent off with 15 minutes left to play. The defeat is a heavy blow for the visitors who are just one point above the bottom three.

Daniele Gastaldello's stoppage time header earned Sampdoria a point at Fiorentina which leaves the home side's UEFA Champions League hopes in the balance. AC Milan's win at Livorno means they are just two points behind Cesare Prandelli's fourth-placed side, who must have thought they had secured victory when Adrian Mutu slotted home a late penalty. Fiorentina, who can claim a place in the UEFA Cup final by beating Glasgow Rangers on Thursday, had levelled the scores through Christian Vieri in the 77th minute after Christian Maggio had given Samp the lead. Gastaldello's late equaliser also keeps the visitors - four points behind - in the race for fourth spot.

Filippo Inzaghi scored a hat-trick as AC Milan moved to within touching distance of fourth place with a comfortable 4-1 win at struggling Livorno. He fired into an empty net from close range after 23 minutes to break the deadlock, benefiting from some neat lead-up work from Kaka. After the game remained 1-0 at the break, Inzaghi completed his hat-trick inside 15 second-half minutes. The 34-year-old's second was a clever header following a Daniele Bonera corner before he was again well placed to head home from close range on the hour mark. Seedorf completed the scoring for the hosts, before Dario Knezvic's consolation, as the Rossoneri moved two points behind Fiorentina. Defeat for the home side drops them to the foot of the table, three points from safety.

Four goals in less than 20 first-half minutes set Juventus on course for a 5-2 rout of Lazio and the confirmation of their Champions League spot next season. Giorgia Chiellini, Mauro Camoranesi, Alessandro Del Piero and David Trezeguet all found the net in the opening 35 minutes as Juventus came roaring out of the blocks. Rolando Bianchi and Sebastiano Siviglia gave Lazio hope early in the second half, but after Siviglia was then sent off, Juve closed the deal when Chiellini grabbed his second late on. Roma's victory over Torino means Juve are no closer to their target of second place, but it was not for lack of trying on their part.

Former Genoa coach Luigi Cagni enjoyed a triumphant return to the Stadio Luigi Ferraris as his Empoli side picked up three vital points with a 1-0 win to move out of the drop zone. Ignazio Abate struck the decisive goal for the visitors from Tuscany after quarter of an hour and the hosts could find no reply. Genoa's miserable afternoon was compounded two minutes from time by the dismissal of substitute Marco Di Vaio - just 12 minutes after his introduction. Empoli's victory - coupled with Livorno's defeat at home to Milan and Parma's reverse at Reggina - sees Cagni's troops climb two places to 17th.

Francesco Cozza's second-half brace saw Reggina come from behind to claim a crucial 2-1 victory over 10-man Parma in the relegation battle at the Stadio Oreste Granillo. Luca Cigarini's penalty had put Parma ahead but after the visitors had Massimo Paci dismissed early in the second half, Cozza took over to claim all three points for Reggina. They remain in the relegation zone but are now off the bottom and level on points with 17th-placed Empoli, while Parma slip down to 19th, two points adrift of safety.

Udinese breathed new life into their fight for a UEFA Cup place with a 2-1 win against struggling Catania. Antonio Di Natale put the home side in front as early as the sixth minute but they were pegged back by an equaliser from Juan Vargas. Udinese quickly replied with a stunning winning goal from Fabio Quagliarella before half-time. The day's events could not have been much kinder to Pasquale Marino's men, as Sampdoria were held by Fiorentina, cutting the gap between Udinese and sixth-place to two points. Added to that, Samp have the harder run-in. Catania also needed the points to edge further away from the relegation zone and in defeat their cushion is cut to two points.

Mid-table Napoli and Siena cancelled each other out at the Stadio San Paolo in a goalless draw which does little for either team. The result sees Napoli remain in a comfortable ninth and Siena 13th - six points clear of the relegation zone.

Palermo had a glimpse of the future as they battled out a drab goalless draw with Atalanta without the services of coveted striker Amauri. The Brazilian is poised to join Juventus for next season - discussions between the two clubs are at an advanced stage - but sat out the game through suspension and, without their top scorer, Palermo were unable to breach a resolute defence at the Stadio Renzo Barbera. Both Atalanta and Palermo are sitting comfortably in mid-table and with neither Europe or safety to fight for the lack of urgency was reflected in the pace of the match.

[Sunday 27 Apr]

1 comment:

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