Serie A Roundup by Allan Oliveira
Week ending 2nd of Mar 2008, Matchday 26.
Cagliari’s task of remaining in Serie A after this season just got harder, as the Italian football federation deducted three points for taking unauthorised legal action against a former player for alleged defamation. They were already at the bottom of the league with 18 points, but will have three less now depending on how the club’s appeal goes. It was also a matchday where the substitutes were often the decisive players and the last game of the week resulted in Inter’s shock defeat at the hands of Napoli to put an end to their 31 game unbeaten streak in the domestic competition.
Roma vs Parma (4-0)
Roma got back to winning ways after stumbling against Inter in the mid-week fixture by letting in a late goal for a draw. The home side started well, within the first minute a lovely Totti dummy set up Guily for a strike that just fizzed wide. Parma had a shot at the other end not long after but Doni was able to block it. Aquilani was gifted with a ball at his feet on 27 minutes when Parma keeper Bucci fumbled a Cassetti cross and palmed it to the midfielder for a straight-forward finish. The score remained the same in the first half but Roma doubled the advantage just over five minutes into the second half when Falcone found his own net with a clearance that went wrong. Parma almost pulled one back soon after but their goal was disallowed for a controversial foul. Ten minutes before the final whistle, Totti powered in a sublime strike from outside of the box after a a nice back heel set him up and right at the death Vucinic completed the four-goal thrashing with a tap in.
A good confidence booster ahead of the CL clash with Madrid as well as a step towards the Scudetto as they close the gap at the top to 6 points.
AC Milan vs Lazio (1-1)
Milan dropped points again after Lazio left the San Siro with a share of the spoils, although they did well to equalise after conceding first. The first half was quite dull and only a Pato strike was worth mentioning although keeper, Ballotta dealt with it easily. Kalac was called upon early in the second half with a couple of good saves that will help his chances of remaining the number one keeper. Unfortunately he was unable to stop the goal on 54 minutes when Bianchi slid in to finish a nice Rocchi pass. Milan began to get back into the match and then Kaladze was pulled down in the area to receive a penalty that Oddo converted against his former club. Lazio were on the receiving end of several yellow cards in the remaining minutes until Silvestri was sent off with a straight red for cleaning up Pato in the 84th minute. Milan could not capitalise on their numerical advantage and had to settle with one point.
Cagliari vs Genoa (2-1)
Cagliari took a step forward after a couple of steps backwards thanks to the docked points. The visitors started off the better, forcing saves from Rubinho. On 15 minutes Lucarelli nodded in a Fabiano cross to give Genoa the lead. They continued to push but the home side equalised in style just before the half-hour mark when Acquafesca smacked a volley into the bottom far corner from Cossu’s long pass over Genoa’s defense. In the dying minutes of the first half Cagliari were helped by Genoa’s keeper after Acquafresca’s headed effort hit the inside of the far upright and bounced back into the net off his shoulder. There were few chances in the second half, Cagliari received a handful of yellow’s but managed to hang on to their slender lead to grab more crucial points in their bid for survival.
Genoa maintain eighth spot on goal difference while Cagliari remain bottom, propping up the table.
Empoli vs Siena (0-2)
Siena managed to take away all points with goals in both halves of this local derby to continue their fine form of late. Siena found their first goal on 33 minutes when Portanova met a Codrea free kick at the far post to nod it into the back of the net. There was little else of mention in the first half but in the second both teams were playing well and creating chances. It wasn’t until the 90th minute that Siena put the match beyond doubt. Moro was shown red for his nasty tackle on Rossi and only moments later, Rigano doubled the score with a close range effort.
Siena are now equal in points with Torino but Empoli lose a place to Livorno and lie in 17th on the relegation threshold.
Juventus vs Fiorentina (2-3)
This match was the highlight of matchday 26 as the teams battled for 3rd place on the table. It certainly lived up to the hype and provided a thrilling match, the visitors coming from behind to take home all the points at the death. Both teams came out attacking but Gobbi grabbed the first goal for the visitors on 19 minutes, linking up well with Jorgensen to leave the Juve defence in tatters. Juve pulled one back against the run of play to equalise ten minutes later. Frey palmed away a Palladino free kick only for Sissoko to volley in an overhead kick. The home side started to play much better and just after ten minutes of the restart, Camoranesi gave Juve the lead with a splendid volley. Prandelli’s changes proved decisive as first substitute Waigo equalised on 75 minutes and then turned provider with a cross for fellow substitute Osvaldo who nodded in from close range on 90 minutes.
The win sees Fiorentina just one point away from third position although both teams are well off 2nd place and the league leaders.
Livorno vs Catania (1-0)
Livorno jumped three places with their win, out of the relegation zone and left their visitors in their place. The home side had less possession during the first period but held on as neither side could find the net. After the restart Diamanti was brought on and he wasted little time, snatching a goal just after the hour mark. An incredible long range strike into the top corner. He almost doubled the advantage moments later from a free kick, just hitting the top post. Livorno continued to push hard and were unlucky not to score again with more efforts hitting the woodwork.
Reggina vs Palermo (0-0)
Palermo continued their less than spectacular run of late while Reggina did little to get them out of relegation trouble. The first half was sparse of action. Zaccarodo having his goal disallowed for offside while Brienza did all he could for the home side as he weaved through four players to cut the ball across the face of goal but his colleagues failed to get a final touch, were the only first half highlights. Palermo lost a couple of players to injury and in the second half Reggina came out much stronger. They were unlucky not to find the net as Palermo’s keeper and their own poor finishing denied them all three points.
Sampdoria vs Torino (2-2)
The home side had to come from behind twice in this match as Cassano inspired them to a draw and continued his impressive season. Torino started well and were on the scoresheet after just 18 minutes when Comotto blazed into the area and put the ball past Castellazzi. They continued to pressure their hosts but Cassano managed to set up Sala just before the break to level the scores. Sala turned villain in the second half as he brought down Di Michele in the box and gave the visitors a penalty. Di Michele dusted himself off to convert the spot kick on 51 minutes. Sampdoria didn’t have to wait long to equalise when a good individual effort from Cassano made it 2-all only a minute later. He also turned villain when he picked up a red card for dissent in the dying minutes.
Sampdoria hold on to seventh place while Torino maintain 13th spot for now.
Udinese vs Atalanta (2-0)
Two goals within minutes of the half hour mark were enough to secure a win for Udinese. From a corner, Quagliarella headed in past Coppola to put his team in front. Two minutes later Di Natale doubled the score, grabbing on to a loose ball and slotting in past the keeper. Atalanta spent the rest of the match trying to get back into the game but the hosts were resilient and held on for all the points.
Atalanta drop a place whilst Udinese stay in 6th, feeling the pressure from Sampdoria.
Napoli vs Inter Milan (1-0)
Inter’s unbeaten run has ended, an early Zalayeta goal after just 3 minutes was enough for the unlikely heroes. 31 consecutive games without a loss. It had to end at some stage and it was looking more and more likely as Inter were without a win in their last three matches and were missing key players, such as Ibrahimovic, Samuel, Cambiasso, Julio Cruz, Cesar and Cordoba. Materazzi struggled to deal with Lavezzi throughout most of the match and the visitors were under constant pressure. They slowly started to get back into the game but Materazzi went from bad to worse, almost finding with own net after the break, if not for Julio Cesar’s acrobatics. Julio Cesar was involved again when he gave the home side a penalty for clearing part of Gargano’s ankle as well as the ball but the shot stopper did brilliantly again to deny Zalayeta. Napoli continued to play well but 1-0 was the result at full time.
The lead at the top is just six points now so the race is definitely on, while Napoli remain in 11th spot with 33 points.
1st Inter 61pts 26 played
2nd Roma 55pts 26 played
3rd Juventus 48pts 26 played
4th Fiorentina 47pts 26 played
5th AC Milan 43pts 26 played
6th Udinese 39pts 26 played