Serie A Roundup by Allan Oliveira
Week ending 17th of Feb 2008, matchday 23.
This week saw an important battle at the top of the table between Juventus and Roma, both chasing after Inter. Fiorentina and Milan continued to fight over the 4th champions league spot. The week also saw a legend of the game, Ronaldo, collect a serious injury that could put an end to his amazing career.
AC Milan vs Livorno (1-1)
On Wednesday night, Milan played their last game in hand, at home against Livorno. The match was unfortunately overshadowed by the serious injury to the “Phenomenon”, Ronaldo. The three times world player of the year earned Milan their equaliser in the form of a penalty, after Pulzetti had put Livorno ahead only minutes following the restart. The penalty was converted by Pirlo but Ronaldo seriously injured himself in the incident. After coming off the bench only three mintutes earlier, he ruptured the patelar tendon in his left knee as he was knocked off balance. He left the field in tears and was on a plane to his old surgeon in Paris the next day. Milan moved up to one point below Fiorentina before the weekend matches.
Inter Milan vs Livorno (2-0)
Inter choose to rest their powerful strike partnership of Ibrahimovic and Cruz in preparation for the upcoming champions league match. This allowed the speedy Suazo to start the match and grab an early brace to leave Livorno languishing dangerously near the relegation zone. Their second visit to the San Siro this week but not even a point to show for it this time. The first goal came from a Chivu free-kick on 14 minutes that Suazo headed in and only four minutes later bad defending allowed him to tap in for another goal. Inter opened up their lead at the top to 11 points, still undefeated.
Parma vs AC Milan (0-0)
Milan travelled to Parma with their striker crisis continuing to make things difficult. The match saw Maldini come off the bench for his 1000th game with Milan, an amazing feat but apparently not enough to boost the team’s spirits and take a win. Both sides wasted a lot of good chances but Milan had the better proportion of these and even though the point allowed them to finally take forth place from Fiorentina, it was only momentarily as the Voila reclaimed the spot the next day. Parma find themselves in the relegation area after this week’s matches.
Juventus vs Roma (1-0)
As Roma looked to keep the heat on Inter at the top, Juventus welcomed the visitors with intentions of taking second spot away from them. Spalletti much like Ancelotti, had injuries and a champions league clash with Real Madrid to consider, so some of the squad was rotated. The only goal scored came when Mexes brought down Nedved on the edge of the area and Del Piero converted the free kick in style, a rocket into the top right corner. The match was a great display of attacking football and only the heroics of both goalkeepers managed to keep the score down. Juve find themselves one point behind Roma, and now boths sides are praying that Inter will drop some points.
Palermo vs Cagliari (2-1)
The home side returned to winning ways this week as they showed no mercy towards their last-placed visitors. Although Cagliari started well, Cavani was on the scoresheet for Palermo by the 23rd minute, making the most of the start with the usual Palermo attack force suspended. Just before the break, Cavani and Cassani combined well and released Jankovic who slotted past keeper Storari as he rushed out. Cagliari were able to get one back as Cavani helped the visitors by heading a corner into his own net. Palermo move up to eighth while Cagliari remain last.
Genoa vs Sampdoria (0-1)
Sampdoria defeated a ten-man Genoa in the last minutes of the match to take all the spoils of the local derby. Cassano continued to impress this season and was man of the match with many impressive plays that his colleagues could not finish. It was on 87 minutes when Cassano once again brilliantly left Genoa’s defenders for dead and chipped a ball to Maggio who finally put one away on the second attempt after so many chances earlier. A fiesty match with no less than 11 yellows, one becoming a red for Danilo on 62 minutes. Sampdoria find themselves in seventh position while Genoa are tenth.
Reggina vs Udinese (1-3)
Udinese over-powered their hosts in this one-sided match, the difference in quality between the teams quite apparent. The visitors needed only eight minutes to take the lead as Pepe volleyed in off a D’Agostino free kick. Their second would come on the hour as Barreto released Di Natale who smacked in a lovely left-footer. Reggina came back into the match through a beautiful Modesto move, beating his marker and finding the top corner from a difficult angle. Unfortunately for the home side, Di Natale sealed the points and his brace in the dying minutes. Udinese remain in sixth while Reggina sit second from bottom with 18 points.
Siena vs Torino (0-0)
Siena hosted Torino in the only match with no goals this week. Although Torino was coming off a 3-1 win over Palermo, they went back to their draw speciality, now with 13 this season. Although the visitors started stronger, Siena got back into the match as time drew on but neither could find the net. Siena are just out of the relegation zone with 21 points while Torino have only 4 points more in 13th place.
Lazio vs Atalanta (3-0)
Lazio were looking to forget last week’s defeat to relegation battlers Empoli and Atalanta were the victims as two Rocchi penalties and a Pandev goal gave the home side the win. In the middle of the first half, Atalanta’s keeper brought down Manfredini and Rocchi converted from the spot. Pandev put one away on 56 minutes although he needed two attempts to get it into the net. Finally in the last few minutes, Lazio received their second penalty of both the match and this season when Pellegrino brought Bianchi down and Rocchi smashed the spot-kick into the net again.
Napoli vs Empoli (1-3)
Empoli built on top of last week’s win with another on the trot to move out of the relegation zone. Pozzi put them in front on 21 minutes although Mannini was able to level the score just before the break. A minute into second half and both Zalayeta and Piccolo were off for early showers after an off the ball incident, reducing both sides to ten men. Pozzi completed his brace with 65 minutes on the clock and Napoli found themselves with nine men less than ten minutes later. Finally Budel tapped in for the visitors, moving Empoli up to 16th and leaving Napoli in 11th.
Fiorentina vs Catania (2-1)
Catania proved to be very difficult for Fiorentina to break down. Although they weren’t amazing in attack, the visitors were solid defensively. Fiorentina found the net just before the break through Kuzmanovic who headed in from a Santana ball. Although the home side continued to attack, it was Catania that would pull themselves level on 60 minutes as Vargas found the ball at his feet on the edge of the area and did not waste the chance. Finally a piece of individual brilliance from Mutu sealed three points for Fiorentina as they put an end to Catania’s resurgence following the equaliser. The win put Fiorentina back in forth and three points above Milan.
1st Inter 59pts 23 played
2nd Roma 48pts 23 played
3rd Juventus 47pts 23 played
4th Fiorentina 41pts 23 played
5th AC Milan 38pts 23 played
6th Udinese 36pts 23 played