Serie a roundupSerie A Roundup by Allan Oliveira

Matchday 32, week ending 6th of Apr 2008.

This week Roma cut the lead at the top to just one point, although Inter restored the advantage 24 hours later under controversial circumstances.Vieira climbed over his marker to head in their first goal. Milan welcomed back Kaka’ and were soon back to winning ways as they defeated Cagliari at home and although they also managed to get a point away from that crucial last Champion’s League spot, Fiorentina restored their advantage the next day with a win over Reggina. Juventus were defeated by a last minute cracker and find themselves in danger of losing third spot to the Viola. It’s still very close at the bottom with five teams within three points of each other and who will stay or go is anyone’s guess.

Roma vs Genoa (3-2)
Roma had their work cut out for them this week as Genoa fought back from 2-0 down to equalise, a De Rossi penalty winning them the match. The game started well for the home side as they put away two goals in under 20 minutes. Taddei grabbed the first goal on 14 minutes when a Tonetto cross landed at his feet and he tucked it away from close range on the second attempt. Four minutes later Vucinic scored a beauty, with his back to goal and well outside the area he struck the ball as he turned and placed it into the top right corner. They seemed content with the scoreline and were probably looking to coast the rest of the match but Genoa had other plans. Just before the hour mark the visitors scored twice with the goals just seconds apart. First Doni could only parry Borriello’s shot into Rossi’s path and he tapped in from a few metres then substitute Julio Leon placed a low, powerful drive into the bottom right corner from the top of the box. Roma appeared to be in shock and found it difficult to get back into the game but their chance came on 80 minutes when De Rossi was brought down by Borriello. He picked himself up and converted the spot kick, ultimately winning the match for Roma and keeping their Scudetto dreams alive. Genoa did well but remain in eighth position as neither Atalanta or Napoli could capitalise on the result.

Milan vs Cagliari (3-1)
Milan closed the gap between them and Fiorentina to just one point, even if only for 24 hours, while Cagliari continue in relegation limbo after failing to secure any points this week. The match saw the welcome return of Kaka to the Milan line up and he wasted no time reminding them why he’s such a vital player to the Rossoneri. He scored the opener after just 8 minutes with a well-placed strike from the top of the D. Kaladze picked up a yellow on 21 minutes which means both him and Nesta are suspended for next week’s match against Juve. Just after the half hour mark Inzaghi popped up to nod in a Pirlo corner and Kaka’ almost made it three just before the break, another long range drive forcing the best out of Storari. Shortly after the restart Conti pulled one back when his curling shot slipped through Kalac’s fingers and under the big man, a howler that he’ll want to forget. Inzaghi made it three for Milan on 69 minutes, beating several defenders as well as the keeper before slipping at the critical moment but he kept his composure and turned the keeper again to slot the ball into an empty net.

Atalanta vs Inter (0-2)
Atalanta hosted the league leaders this week and Inter knew they had to win after Roma closed the gap to one point the night before. Inter had a huge injury list which allowed 17 year old Mario Balotelli or “Super Mario” to start although they did at least welcome back Cambiasso to the midfield. There was plenty of action early on but the visitors struck first on 21 minutes as Vieira rose up to nod in a Balotelli corner kick, although he appeared to be all over his marker and was lucky to see the goal stand. Crespo also found the net but saw his goal disallowed for being in an offside position. After the restart Inter wasted a few good chances to increase their lead although Balotelli was doing a lot of good work in setting up his team mates. Finally the youngster did the job himself and scored his first Serie A goal. He beat the offside trap and picked up Stankovic’s flick over the defence to then round the keeper and slot into an empty net. In the dying minutes there was some more controversy as Materazzi pulled on Inzaghi’s shirt in the area but the foul went the other way and then Doni saw two yellows in quick succession when he verbally attacked the ref for not giving a free kick after Vieira knocked over Pellegrino in stoppage time. The lead at the top stays at four points while Atalanta also maintain ninth position.

Catania vs Napoli (3-0)
Catania delivered a convincing home win to set up a more comfortable buffer between them and the relegation zone while Napoli continued their poor away form but at least hold onto tenth spot for now. The home side opened up their goal account after just five minutes when Colucci’s low free kick somehow flew past everyone and in at the near post. Around ten minutes later Spinesi made it two, putting away a simple tap in after Sardo provided a great pass from the right. The remaining period of the first half saw Napoli attempt to get back into the game with several good efforts although shortly after the restart Vargas wrapped things up for Catania. From a corner kick he volleyed into the net on the second attempt after his first didn’t quite work out. Both teams wasted chances in the remaining minutes but it was unlikely that Napoli would stage a comeback anyway.

Fiorentina vs Reggina (2-0)
Pazzini and Mutu kept Fiorentina in fourth spot and sent Reggina to the bottom of the table considering Empoli’s win. Makinwa was worrying the Viola from early on but Pazzini broke the deadlock when he headed in from Pasqual’s cross on 23 minutes. Reggina pushed hard for an equaliser but unfortunately wasted their best chances. Fiorentina also had their fair share of chances but failed to build their advantage thanks to poor finishing. Finally Mutu put the result beyond doubt in stoppage time after Gobbi flicked on Vieri’s cross for him to slot into goal.

Parma vs Lazio (2-2)
Parma hosted Lazio this week and the teams delivered an entertaining first half which contained all four goals. A minute’s silence was observed at the start of the match as a tribute to Parma fan, Matteo Bagnaresi who was tragically and accidentally run down by a bus of Juventus fans last week. On 17 minutes Budan picked up a deflected effort and ran on to blast a shot past Muslera. The keeper had more to contend with soon after but did well to keep his team in the game. On 35 minutes Pandev equalised when he beat several defenders and fired into the far corner. Only three minutes later Bianchi put the visitors in front with a powerful long-range strike into the top-corner. Paci pulled one back and equalised for the home side just minutes before the break with a glancing header from a deep free-kick. The teams must’ve used up all their inspiration and reserves as the second half was much less exciting and there was very little to speak of at either end. Parma are just one point out of relegation danger although they have a game in hand, while Lazio maintain 11th spot but only through goal difference now.

Sampdoria vs Livorno (2-0)
The hosts welcomed back Cassano who completed his five match ban for dissent and he was on hand to supply the scorers of both goals. The first half was pretty much all Sampdoria as the diminutive Italian got in on the action but Livorno held on and entered the break with a clean sheet. After the restart it was Tavano that caused problems for the home side and he found a goal, but had it disallowed for a push on the last defender although replays show it was a very soft decision. Maggio finally opened up his side’s account as he slotted into the net following Pieri’s fine work. Five minutes from time Cassano set up Bonazzoli with a fine pass that only needed to be placed into the net. Udinese’s slip allowed Sampdoria to climb a place into sixth position but Livorno remain in serious trouble just two points from the bottom.

Siena vs Udinese (1-1)
The opening minutes of this match saw good chances as well as penalty appeals at either end and the exchanges continued throughout the first half even though no goals resulted. The home side brought on Kharja shortly after the hour mark and he delivered within minutes blasting a powerful shot from about 25 metres into the near corner. Udinese’s sub Flores also delivered when he put away the follow up of Di Natale’s attempt on 78 minutes. The latter almost scored himself just minutes later but Manninger blocked his header and left the teams to split the points. Udinese drop a place to seventh while the home side also drop a place to 13th.

Torino vs Empoli (0-1)
The visitors grabbed a late goal and all three points to lift themselves off the bottom of the table while Torino manage to hold onto 14th position. Recoba saw a great effort saved within the opening minutes and Tosto and Stellone also missed a good chance. Then it was Motta who shook the crossbar just after the half-hour mark and soon after the same crossbar denied Recoba’s free kick. All a sign perhaps that things weren’t about to go Torino’s way. After the restart Empoli began to get back into the match but in the dying minutes Di Michele incredibly missed an open goal after flicking the ball past the last defender and the keeper, he nodded wide and past the unguarded net. Empoli punished this mistake with a goal from Vannucchi a minute later that won the match for the visitors.

Palermo vs Juventus (3-2)
Juve had to fight back after conceding two goals in the first half and although they managed to equalise, a late goal by Palermo won the match for the home side. It was all Palermo from the start and Amauri scored after just 11 minutes with a quality curling strike into the top corner, out of Buffon’s reach. In an unfortunate collision, Guana and Nedved clashed heads and both had to be substituted as neither could continue. As the half wore on Juve got back into the game but couldn’t find the net and just before the break were punished again when Amauri completed his brace with a powerful header into the top corner. Shortly after the restart Del Piero pulled one back when Fontana couldn’t hold onto Sissoko’s shot and the ball fell for the Juve legend to put away. Then on 71 minutes Fontana found himself in a similar position after he blocked Trezeguet’s header but directed the ball towards Del Piero again who had no problem completing his brace to put the teams on level terms again. With ten minutes to go Juve almost won the match when Del Piero’s free kick rattled the post and Fontana had to block Trezeguet’s follow up but against the run of play and in the last minute of regular time, Cassani chested down a cleared free kick and smashed the ball straight into the net from 26 metres with Buffon unable to even move. The old lady are now just two points in front of Fiorentina while Palermo climb back into the 12th spot although the visitors still have a game in hand.

The standings
1st Inter 72pts 32 played
2nd Roma 68pts 32 played
3rd Juventus 58pts 31 played
4th Fiorentina 56pts 32 played
5th AC Milan 52pts 32 played
6th Sampdoria 52pts 32 played

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