Header at the half-hour mark by Juventus’s latest signing Matri was enough to give the hosts a much-needed win over the reigning champions Inter Milan in Derby d’ Italia, late on Sunday night. The Bianconeri looked threatening whenever they counter attacked, whilst the visiting team enjoyed a major chuck of possession. Eto’o must be ruing the fact that he could have easily restored parity in the 89th minute in what can be termed as the miss of the season. Buffon proved why he is still the most feared and respected shot stopper in Europe. His heroics were the difference between a Juventus win and a Juventus loss. The Nerazzurri suffered only their second defeat under Leonardo, since the Brazilian took over in December. This victory is bound to bolster the chances of the Turin-based club for Europe next season as they leapfrogged both Roma and Palermo to the sixth position on the table. Inter on the other hand will be bitterly disappointed to walk out the derby without a single point, as this increases the gap between them and their rivals Milan to eight points. Inter, though, do have a game in hand.
Early on Saturday, leaders AC Milan ran riot on Parma by inflicting a 4-0 win over the il Crociati. Milan played a free-flowing game and Pasquale’s men had no answer to the attacking football played by the Rossoneri. Milan opened the scoring through Seedorf, who saw his name on the scoresheet for the first time this season. Meanwhile, Cassano doubled the lead within twenty minutes with his 100th goal in Serie A. Crespo and Giovinco didn’t trouble Milan’s defense one bit and were substituted together in the second period. Robinho scored a brace within five minutes of stepping on the field near the hour mark to put the result beyond Parma’s grasp.
Robinho struck twice for the leaders
Second placed Napoli kept the pressure on Milan by earning a 2-0 win at Roma thanks to their in-form Uruguayan striker Cavani, who has had a sensational season. The Serie A top scorer netted twice after the halftime to secure three points for Walter Mazzarri’s men. To everyone’s surprise Totti was kept on the bench by Ranieri which would have not gone down well with the fans.
Lazio also picked up a 2-0 win over relegation-threatened team Brescia to climb back to the third position in the league. A goal in either half, first from Gonzalez and then from Kozak resulted in Reja’s men to pick up their third victory of the year and keep themselves in contention for a place in the Champions League.
Sampdoria knocked the breath out of Bologna in the first 15 minutes itself by scoring three goals in quick succession to take the game beyond their reach. The Rossoblu did get a consolation goal in the 65th minute but they succeeded to recover from the setback received in the first few minutes of the encounter. This victory came as a breath of fresh air to the Di Carlo as his team had tasted win only once in their last eight encounters.
Bari failed to notch up a win under their new coach Mutti and they had to content themselves with a single point against Genoa at home. It looked like Bari had sealed all three points in the 79th minute when Okaka scored for the home team, only to be disallowed moments later by the referee Peruzzo who decided in favor of Genoa for a foul commited by Castilo over Kaladze. The replays suggested that it was a bad decision on the part of the ref and as a result, the match ended in a goalless draw.
Catania hosted Lecce on Sunday in a crucial encounter with both the clubs sitting on the brink of relegation zone. It turned out to be a captivating clash indeed and fans must have had their money’s worth in the ninety minutes at Stadio Angelo Massimino. Francesco Lodi’s brace in the span of six minutes, with just five minutes left on the clock helped the Rossazzurri to a precious home victory. Lecce had a terrible end to the first half, in which they not only conceded the match’s first goal to Catania but also had Giacomazzi sent off after he was involved in a verbal argument with the referee A.Romeo. However, the visitors bounced back strong and took the lead through the strikes of Jeda and Munari near an hour mark. Vives’s strike for Lecce would have put the conclusion beyond doubt just two minutes later but his shot only hit the post and gave a lifeline to Catania who grabbed it with both hands in the last ten minutes.
The Samdoria, the first half display was enough for Cagliari to notch up an impressive win over Chievo Verona. Goals from Conti, Canini and Nene completely demoralized the visitors before the halftime whistle. Nene added his second and the forth for the Islanders with barely twenty minutes left to put the final nails in the coffin of the Flying Donkeys. Thereau got one back for Chievo but it was impossible to spark a revival for them as it was scored just five minutes from time.
19th placed Cesena succumbed 0-3 to Udinese in a one-sided affair with Di Natale scoring a goal a piece in either halves. Di Natale was having a fantastic game and to make matters worse Inler added one more for the little Zebras.
Game of the week: Palermo v Fiorentina (2-4)
It takes a lot to get featured in the game of the week over a weekend in which Derby d’italia was being played. What we witnessed at the Stadio Renzo Barbera where Palermo hosted Fiorentina was an absorbing six-goal encounter that saw the side from Florence come back twice from a goal down to pick up an unforgettable victory. The highly rated Palermo youngster Javier Pastore put the hosts in the lead in as early as the seventh minute but former Milan forward made sure that the celebrations of the home team were short lived as his goal brought back parity into the match, thirty minutes after Pastore’s strike.
Nocerino’s header gave the advantage back to Palermo once again, just minutes after the commencement of the second period. Delio Rossi learnt from the previous mistakes and didn’t sit in their half after taking back the lead but kept on pressing for the third one, but it was in fact Viola who scored through Camporese in the 70th minute to equalize for the second time. Bovo didn’t help the cause of the home team either, after the defender accidentally diverted a cross into his net to give the lead to the visitors for the first time in the match. Ljajic picked up his second assist of the match just twelve minutes after being substituted into the match as Montilivo slotted his pass past Sirigu just in the dying moments of the match to seal a memorable win.
Star of the week: Antonio Cassano (AC Milan)
Star of this week!
His goal-drought finally came to an end against Parma this week. For the first time this season, he was included in the starting eleven, and he did not disappoint. He made his presence felt as early as the 17th minute, when he exchanged passes with Gattuso before sliding the ball home. He remained a constant threat throughout the match and was the architect behind each of Robinho’s goals. A superb performance.
Flop of the week: Samuel Eto’o (Internazionale)
Eto’o missed an absolute sitter in the 89th minute that could have won a point for the Nerazzurri. Instead he managed to smash his shot against the crossbar from four yard when Maicon’s cross dropped in front of him and an open goal. He also missed a couple of decent chances early in the match. Only one of his four shots were on goal making it a night to forget for an otherwise brilliant striker.
Goal of the week: Angelo Polombo (Sampdoria)
Race for the Golden Boot
Di Natale 18
Milan 4-0 Parma
Roma 0-2 Napoli
palermo 2-4 Fiorentina
Brescia 0-2 Lazio
Sampdoria 3-1 Bologna
Catania 3-2 Lecce
Bari 0-0 Genoa
Cagliari 4-1 Chievo
Cesena 0-3 Udinese
Juventus 1-0 Inter
Team of the week: 4-3-1-2
With contributions from Amlan Chaudhury.
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