Serie AMatchday 33, week ending 20th of Apr 2008.

There was much drama this week, with the end of the season drawing near and the race for places heating up, especially that hotly contested fourth Champion’s League spot.

Milan were involved in a 5-1 thrashing of Reggina as Kaka returned to his usual excellent form, appearing well and truly recovered from his injury woes. Juve thumped Atalanta with another amazing performance by their star and captain, Del Piero. It was also a week of harsh referee decisions and many red cards that saw teams reduced to ten, nine and even eight men in Parma’s case! Allan Oliveira reports.

Juventus vs Parma (3-0)
Juve hosted Parma mid-week in this rescheduled round 31 match following the death of a Parma fan. The home side dominated the match from the very start and after 16 minutes Trezeguet put away a Del Piero corner at the back post. Juve struck again on the half hour mark when Palladino beat his marker and unleashed an unstoppable strike into the far corner. The frantic tempo dropped a bit after the second goal and Parma finally had a few attempts but no luck. In the second half the home side continued to push for another goal and were rewarded in the 77th although it was Parma’s Morrone who was the goal scorer. A Tiago pass came off his head and over Bucci, into his own net. A minute later Couto was sent off for dissent and may face further action for punching Chiellini earlier in the match (the incident missed by the referees). Juve found themselves comfortably in third while Parma are hovering just one point from relegation.

Roma vs Livorno (1-1)
Roma dropped vital points after welcoming bottom of the table Livorno and can most likely forget their dream of beating Inter to the Scudetto. Adding insult to injury, they lost captain and talisman Francesco Totti to a knee injury that looks to be quite serious. Both sides were involved in the early exchanges although Roma had more than their fair share. Totti took a knock on his knee but managed to continue until soon after he fell awkwardly following a shot and had to be stretchered off and replaced by Mancini. Vucinic finally broke the deadlock on 54 minutes with a looping header that was out of Amelia’s reach. They pushed for another but couldn’t find it and a Pizarro error forced Juan to give away a free kick. Substitute Diamanti stepped up and curled the ball beautifully into the top corner to level the score with just seven minutes of regular time remaining. Roma began to attack like their lives were on the line and pounded Amelia’s goal in the dying minutes but Livorno held on for a share of the spoils. By goal difference only the visitors are in 18th spot but all three sides facing relegation are on 30 points.

Fiorentina vs Palermo (1-0)
The hosts were looking to keep Milan at bay with another win and although they didn’t produce their best performance of late, they did enough to defeat mid-table Palermo. They maintain fourth spot just as Palermo maintain tenth. The only goal of the match came on the half hour mark when Donadel found the ball at his feet and struck it with venom from about 20 metres. The ball skimmed past Agliardi at the near post much to the delight of the home crowd. Palermo had a couple of good chances to equalise as did the Viola to extend their lead but only Mutu was proving dangerous for his side. Even when the visitors were reduced to ten men after Rinaudo picked up a second yellow for a push on Pazzini, Fiorentina could not take advantage and in fact almost conceeded if not for Frey’s spectacular reaction saves.

Milan vs Reggina (5-1)
Kaka produced quite a display and bagged a hat-track in the thumping of relegation troubled Reggina. After just eight minutes the Brazilian dusted himself off to send Campagnolo the wrong way following a Modesto tackle in the box which resulted in a penalty. He continued to trouble Campagnolo with powerful drives until another spot kick was awarded following a trip on Seedorf by Vigiani. Kaka’ rolled his shot towards the other side this time and made it 2-0 on 34 minutes. Six minutes later Barreto pulled one back for the visitors after collecting a poor clearance and smashing a screamer into the top corner from just outside the area. On 68 minutes Kaka controlled a Brocchi cross with his thigh and fired into the far bottom corner from a tight angle to complete his hat-trick. The goals didn’t stop as Pato entered with immediate impact, his shot smacking into the post for Inzaghi to tap in the rebound. Finally the substitute got himself a goal in the last minute of regular time nodding in a powerful header from a Gourcuff cross. The result keeps Milan four points from Fiorentina but sends Reggina down to the bottom of the table on goal difference.

Atalanta vs Juventus (0-4)
In another one-sided affair, Juventus continued their good run with a convincing win on the road, to leave themselves just five points behind Roma. Atalanta record another loss but manage to retain 11th place with 41 points. Not to be outdone by Kaka, Del Piero also put on an amazing display and scored a hat-trick himself, without the need for any penalties too. The visitors could not hope for a better start when within the first minute, Legrottaglie nodded in a Del Piero free-kick. Five minutes later, Trezeguet set up Del Piero for a close-range volley to further crush Atalanta’s spirits. The home side attempted to get back into the match but this left them open on the counter and on 33 minutes Del Piero struck again with a well-timed run and calm finish. Following the restart, the Juve captain completed his hat-trick when Trezeguet set him up again to smack a volley in from about 10 metres.

Cagliari vs Empoli (2-0)
Another home win for Cagliari although they did it tough this time, ending the match with nine men. In form Acquafresca opened up the scoring on ten minutes with a superb display of skill, trapping a long ball and then turning and powering it into the goal in almost the same motion. Fini doubled the advantage on 64 minutes with a quality strike also but removed his shirt to celebrate and got sent off as it was his second yellow. Not long after, Pisano picked up a couple of yellows himself and had to go in for an early shower too. This left Cagliari with nine men and 12 minutes to hang on for the win although they actually did so quite comfortably. The result leaves Empoli just above Reggina in 19th while Cagliari continue their amazing rise to 15th with 35 points.

Catania vs Lazio (1-0)
This time Lazio ended with nine men although a Spinesi penalty was enough to seal the win and three more important points for Catania who are trying to put more distance between themselves and the relegation area. Even when Lazio had a full side, Catania looked more dangerous and on 33 minutes Zauri saw red and gave away a penalty which Spinesi promptly converted. In the second half Dabo picked up a yellow for a tackle on Tedesco and promptly earned another for dissent. Even with the numerical advantage Catania were looking tired and Pandev almost found an equaliser but it wasn’t to be for the visitors. Catania are in a much better position in 14th and Lazio remain in 12th spot.

Parma vs Napoli (1-2)
No less than four red cards were handed out in this shocking display of football and refereeing. In the 23rd minute Budan stepped up to convert a spot kick for the home side after Lucarelli earned a penalty under controversial circumstances. Just before the break Mariga picked up a second yellow in another controversial decision as him and Mannini collided when going for the ball. Domizzi put away the resulting penalty to equalise the score. On 73 minutes, Bogliacino put the visitors in front with a nice volley at the near post from a Hamsik cross. Two minutes later, Castellini brought down Lavezzi and a fight broke out between both sides with Falcone and Gargano earning straight red cards for their part in the brawl. A few minutes later Gasbarroni was sent off for an ugly kick on Garic and left Parma with just eight men. Sosa wasted several chances to cement victory in the last minutes but in the end Napoli got all three points from this appauling match. The home side sit one point above relegation certainty while Napoli are doing well in 9th spot.

Sampdoria vs Udinese (3-0)
Sampdoria kept Udinese just behind them in seventh but widened the difference to four points with a convincing win. Cassano opened up his team’s account after 24 minutes nodding in a Bellucci set piece. Just before the break Sampdoria doubled the score as Bellucci smacked the ball into the far bottom corner. Another bad decision awarded the home side with a penalty ten minutes after the restart. Replays show the foul occurred outside the box although Bellucci happily completed his brace regardless. Three minutes later Zapotocny got a second yellow and was sent off to leave Udinese with ten and soon after their coach was sent away too, epitomising the match for the visitors.

Siena vs Genoa (0-1)
A quality Konko strike past Manninger’s reach in the 25th minute was all that was needed for Genoa to take away all the points from this match. Although his side had to play with ten men for almost an hour as yet another red card was handed out for a De Rosa trip on Maccarone. Both Konko and Maccarone continued to prove dangerous at either end but the score remained the same. Genoa closed the gap on Udinese to three points but remain in eighth while Siena also retain their spot of 13th, just far enough from relegation woes.

Torino vs Inter (0-1)
The league leaders took full advantage of Roma’s slip and have potentially sealed the Scudetto with only four rounds left. Although Torino went into this match plagued with injuries and suspensions, they were proving dangerous on the counter in the early stages. But Inter scored on their first real attempt at the stroke of 30 minutes as Balotelli supplied a good corner kick to produce a diving header from Cruz. Both sides had several chances in the remaining period although Inter had a couple of clear ones that really should have extended their lead. They maintained the scoreline and took home all three points while Torino drop two places to 16th, just four points from the bottom.

The standings
1st Inter 78pts 34 played
2nd Roma 72pts 34 played
3rd Juventus 67pts 34 played
4th Fiorentina 59pts 34 played
5th AC Milan 55pts 34 played
6th Sampdoria 55pts 34 played

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