Serie A – Weekly Roundup – 16th March 2008

Serie A Roundup by Allan Oliveira

Seri AMatchday 28, round ending on 16th of Mar 2008.

This week saw the much anticipated showdown between Roma and Milan. One fights for the Scudetto and the other to be allowed to play in the Champion’s League next season. Relegation battlers Reggina and Cagliari fought hard for convincing wins at home. Sampdoria continued to rise up the table and have finally climbed over Udinese into 6th position. Inter put a terrible week behind them and got back on track as the league becomes their only focus now, crashing out of Champion’s League to another Liverpool defeat. Juventus also secured an important win to stay above the Viola.

Udinese vs Lazio (2-2)
Both teams went into this match with several players sidelined through injury although in form Rocchi was on hand to grab an early goal for the visitors. He picked up a deflected Ledesma pass and rounded the keeper to calmly put the ball into the net. Lazio continued to cause problems for the home side during the remainder of the first half as Udinese proved ineffective in attack. A goal resulting from a corner kick saw Udinese equalise soon after the restart, although the initial header was cleared off the line, it fell for Ferronetti to tuck away. The goal opened the game up as both sides began to attack more and more ferociously, but Lazio put themselves in front again on 80 minutes when Ledesma released an absolute rocket from outside the area. Udinese picked themselves up and equalised yet again, six minutes later through Di Natale’s solo effort. They blew a chance to win the game in stoppage time when Pepe fired wide, just metres from the goal. Udinese lose their UEFA spot to Sampdoria while Lazio remain in 11th.

Roma vs Milan (2-1)
Milan allowed themselves to suffer late goals and hand over the game as they seem to do quite often in big games (think the Arsenal match recently and the Liverpool CL final comeback). Both sides had good chances in the first half but they either had their shots blocked or fired wide. Milan came out inspired after the restart and soon enough, world player of the year, Kaka’ was on hand to put the visitors ahead on 56 minutes, when he side-footed a well-timed Oddo cut back past the helpless Doni. Although Milan continued to attack and were proving very dangerous, on 78 minutes and then three minutes later, the game changed completely when a couple of Roma’s super-subs both scored. First Perrotta somehow threaded a pass to Giuly who was unmarked in the area and volleyed past Kalac. Then Vucinic latched onto a De Rossi pass and also slotted one past the big Australian as his well timed run left Milan’s defence for dead. It was end to end stuff in the dying minutes but the score remained the same. Roma closed the gap at the top to three points (although just for one day) and Milan dropped more crucial points, putting their chances for a CL spot next season in serious threat.

Atalanta vs Empoli (4-1)
Atalanta did well to secure a good result with a crushing defeat of Empoli who are in real danger now after their forth consecutive loss. The home side’s first goal arrived after 19 minutes when Langella headed in a Belleri cross. Less than ten minutes later they doubled their advantage as Doni easily put one past Bassi. Empoli threatened the home side after the restart when a Budel shot had to be palmed away but not long after Padoin extended the lead by finishing off Floccari’s good work. On 83 minutes Vannucchi reduced the deficit with a fine goal that blasted in at the near post but a minute later Padoin grabbed another with a volley at the back post. The win sees Atalanta jump up two spots into eighth while Empoli drop to 19th.

Cagliari vs Torino (3-0)
Although Torino did enough to beat Atalanta last week, they were thrashed by a Cagliari that may still have enough in the tank to pull themselves off the bottom of the table. The visitors were missing key players for this trip and the home side let them know after only 11 minutes that they meant business. Acquafresca set up Jeda on the edge of the box for him to slot in a quality goal. Di Michele had a chance to level the score but his spot kick was well denied by Storari. Within a minute, Cagliari was awarded a penalty under controversial circumstances as replays failed to show Barone handling the ball. Never the less, Acquafresca didn’t waste the opportunity and promptly converted on 22 minutes. The home side continued to play well and secured their win shortly after the restart when Acquafresca smashed in a goal from the edge of the area. Although Cagliari remain bottom, they’re only five points away from lifting themselves up and out of the relegation zone. Torino remain in 13th spot.

Fiorentina vs Genoa (3-1)
The home side welcomed back Adrian Mutu and he picked up where he left off with some brilliant work. First he combined well with Santana, brilliantly flicking the ball over the Genoa defence for the Argentine to volley into the net first time on 19 minutes. On the half hour mark Mutu scored one himself after picking up a loose ball on the edge of the area and driving a stunning goal into the top corner. Unfortunately soon after Santana picked up an injury and had to be replaced by Waigo. Ten minutes into the second half put the result beyond doubt as Pazzini beat the offside trap and tapped in past Scarpi. The Viola continued to play well although they allowed a late consolation goal on 83 minutes as substitute Masiero finished from close range. The win increases Fiorentina’s distance from Milan who stumbled against Roma the day before. Genoa drop a spot to tenth as Atalanta leaps over them.

Inter vs Palermo (2-1)
Inter did enough to beat Palermo after crashing out to Liverpool in the middle of the week, and after some unsettling comments by coach Mancini plus an ever increasing injury list. They were quick enough to open the scoring however, just five minutes in had the ex-Juve pair, Ibrahimovic and Vieira exchanging passes for the later to nod in. Inter then wasted a couple of other chances and on 25 minutes Materazzi was unfortunate to give a goal back to the visitors as it eventually came off him and into the net after amazing work from Julio Cesar in an attempt to defend the goal. Jimenez almost restored the lead soon after but had his goal disallowed for offside. He only had to wait until 36 minutes though as he grabbed on to Maicon’s pass and then found the net at the far corner. The visitors played well during the second half but Inter hung on for the win. Materazzi’s woes continued as he was elbowed, booked and bumped heads, the yellow card meaning he misses the next match. Inter return their lead at the top to six points and Palermo loses their spot to Atalanta.

Livorno vs Parma (1-1)
Lucarelli returned to his old club while Hector Cuper grabbed Parma’s reigns with a big task ahead of him. The first half saw very few chances for either side and Livorno scored with their first real chance just before the break as Vidigal released a powerful drive into the top corner. Parma found the equaliser just after the hour mark as Reginaldo dipped a wicked volley past Amelia. Both sides continued to fight for the winner but would have to settle for a share of the spoils. The result of the lower table clash sees both teams still teetering on the edge of the relegation zone in 16th and 17th respectively.

Reggina vs Siena (4-0)
The home side seems to have taken out it’s frustrations on Siena as they demolished the visitors to keep their relegation battle alive. Brienza picked up a failed Cozza attempt and tapped in from close range after just nine minutes. Ten minutes later Cozza got it right with a lovely curling free kick. Twenty minutes later, Brienza was on the score sheet again after Bertotto’s goal-line clearance fell to him and he promptly put it into the net. Reggina continued strongly in the second half and were rewarded again on 68 minutes through Missiroli. Both sides maintain their positions for now, Reggina second from last and Siena in 14th position.

Sampdoria vs Catania (3-1)
Cassano continued to serve out his five match ban on the sidelines although his side were up to the task again in a match where all the goals came in the second half. After a lacklustre first half, the home side finally opened their account when Palombo was lucky to see his shot squeeze past Bizzarri on 68 minutes. Five minutes later the visitors equalised as Stovini nodded in a Vargas cross. Only minutes later Sampdoria reclaimed the lead as Accardi rose up unmarked to head in from a corner kick. The visitors had some good chances to equalise but instead conceded about five minutes from time. Bellucci marked his return from injury with a quality strike that confirmed his side’s three points to climb over Udinese into the 2nd UEFA spot. Catania remain 15th but are now are on points with Livorno.

Juventus vs Napoli (1-0)
Juventus saved themselves at the death in the last match of the round. Yet another super-sub in Iaquinta as he found himself the hero of the day. A turnover occurred in the midfield and Del Piero instinctively found the former who placed a low shot past the keeper. Although Juve started slowly, both sides had several clear chances throughout the first half but failed to convert. More and more pressure built before the inevitable goal but Napoli became very dangerous in the final minutes and almost equalised. The win keeps Fiorentina at bay, just four points behind Juve and Napoli remain in 12th spot.

The standings
1st Inter 67pts 28 played
2nd Roma 61pts 28 played
3rd Juventus 54pts 28 played
4th Fiorentina 50pts 28 played
5th AC Milan 46pts 28 played
6th Sampdoria 42pts 28 played

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