• Tuesday, 14 April 2009

    Serie A Round 31 Review: Lazio cruise the derby

    Reggina 0-2 Udinese
    Bologna 1-4 Siena
    Chievo 0-1 AC Milan
    Fiorentina 2-1 Cagliari
    Genoa 3-2 Juventus
    Inter 2-2 Palermo
    Lazio 4-2 Roma
    Lecce 1-3 Sampdoria
    Napoli 0-0 Atalanta
    Torino 2-1 Catania

    With a 10 point lead at the top of Serie A, one can probably safely assume that the title is Inter's for another year. This is despite being held at home by Palermo on saturday. A Mario Balotelli header and a Zlatan Ibrahimovic penalty (goal #20 of the season) put the hosts in a commanding lead only for them to uncharacteristically squander it to the Sicilians. The ruthless Uruguyan Edison Cavani (Palermo's best player this campaign by a thru'penny bus ride, as my colleague John might say) then Davide Succi pegged them back.

    It was not a costly slip for Jose Mourinho's men, after Juventus lost at Genoa in a thriller at the Luigi Ferraris - where the Grifone have lost just once all season. Thiago Motta was supposed to be a finished crock when Atletico Madrid released him - not so it seems, he scored twice here, putting his side ahead either side of a controversial Del Piero penalty (the referee putting in a characteristically eccentric display). Vicenzo Iaquinta's delicate finish levelled matters once again, and Claudio Rainieri thought he'd rescued a point only for Raffaele Palladino, at Genoa on a co-ownership deal from, yes, you guessed it, Juventus, struck the winner late on. That is a fifth win in 7 matches for Gasperini's men and they keep hold of that precious fourth spot.

    AC Milan were not totally convincing in beating in-form Chievo, who had both chances and a goal disallowed for offside but Clarence Seedorf rounded off a wonderful team move with a lovely finish to condemn the flying donkeys to their first defeat in six games. With Juventus in such poor form at the business end of the season, the Rossoneri could yet leapfrog them into second, just two points back now.

    Lazio triumphed in the weekend's big event, the Rome derby, a traditionally bad-tempered affair in the Eternal City that lived up to its billing. Christian Pannuci, Phillipe Mexes and Francesco Matuzalem were all sent off, and there were some sensational goals too from Mauro Zarate and Aleksander Kolarov. Goals from Mexes and De Rossi in vain for the 'visitors' and Lazio are now 9th, 5 points behind Roma in 6th place. Fiorentina picked up their third straight win to keep the heat on Genoa after they beat Cagliari, who ended the game with 9 men. Manuel Pasqual and Juan Vargas did the damage for the Tuscans.

    Elsewhere, embattled Bologna were smashed at home by Siena, who were led superbly by midfielder Houssine Kharja in a 4-1 win. Sinisa Mihailovic paid for this defeat with his job, the much-travelled Giuseppe Papadopulo installed in his place. Torino halted a run of 4 consecutive defeats with a 2-1 win over Catania; 2 goals for Antonio Floro Flores further condemned Reggina at home to Udinese; Napoli and Atlanta drew 0-0 as both their seasons conk out; and Antonio Cassano and Giampaolo Pazzini (who else?) inspired Sampdoria to a 3-1 win at Lecce, which sees the southerners drop back into the bottom three.

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