Serie A Analysis – Week 8 – Jubilant Lazio extend lead as rivals stutter

Lazio’s fantastic start to the season continued after beating Cagliari 2-1, a victory which extended their lead at the top of Serie A to four points after Juventus, Inter and Roma were all held to draws on matchday eight.
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Edy Reja’s Lazio hosted struggling Cagliari at the Stadio Olimpico and the game went to form as Sergio Floccari gave the home side the lead in the first half before Stefano Mauri fortuitously doubled the advantage with his chest shortly after the break. Cagliari cut the deficit through Alessandro Matri but Lazio held on to remain top, leaving the Sardinians second from bottom.
Inter were forced to settle for a point at the San Siro against Sampdoria. The visitors took a surprise second-half lead through Stefano Guberti after terrific work by Antonio Cassano, but Samuel Eto’o equalised with a near-post header 10 minutes from time.
Juventus and Roma carried their inconsistent form into matches with Bologna and Parma, respectively, and both were made to settle for goalless stalemates. At the Stadio Renato Dall’Ara, Bologna had goalkeeper Emiliano Viviano to thank for the point after he saved Vincenzo Iaquinta’s penalty to keep the score 0-0, a result which saw Juve slip to fifth and Bologna continue to teeter above the relegation zone.
Fiorentina’s victory on Saturday evening means Parma are now rock bottom despite a creditable 0-0 draw with Roma at the Stadio Tardini on Sunday. Both teams are terribly out of form and it showed as countless opportunities were spurned at both ends. Parma coach Pasquale Marino and Roma coach Claudio Ranieri both remain under pressure after another week without a victory.
Talking of pressure, Sinisa Mihajlovic came out fighting on Saturday evening after his Fiorentina side beat Bari 2-1 at the Stadio Artemio Franchi, a result which lifted the Viola off the foot of Serie A and above their opponents in the process. Marco Donadel gave the hosts the lead with a spectacular curler and Alberto Gilardino added a second from close range. Alessandro Parisi scored a late consolation but his side are now third from bottom.
Continuing the theme further, under-pressure Gian Piero Gasperini may have saved his job at Genoa with a 1-0 win over Catania at the Stadio Luigi Ferraris. Marco Rossi netted the winner, lifting his side to ninth, while Catania dropped to 12th.
Chievo continue to defy the odds and leapfrogged Juventus into a Champions League berth after beating Cesena 2-1. Cesar gave Chievo the lead at the Stadio Bentegodi, before Roberto Guana’s own goal restored parity. Cesena then had Steve Von Bergen sent off for two bookings, and the hosts stole the win when Cyril Thereau scored in the 92nd minute. After a promising start, Cesena have fallen to 17th.
Udinese coach Francesco Guidolin beat his former club Palermo 2-1 despite having Andrea Coda sent off. Mehdi Benatia gave the hosts the lead at the Stadio Friuli, and Antonio Di Natale’s penalty made it two. Coda was dismissed for two yellows before Mauricio Pinilla pulled one back for Palermo. The win lifted Udinese up to 11th spot, a point below their opponents in 7th.
Relegation candidates Lecce and Brescia met at the Stadio Via Del Mare, where the hosts ran out 2-1 winners. Andrea Carraciolo gave Brescia the lead after 18 minutes, before Edward Ofere equalised after the break. Lecce’s David Di Michele missed a penalty but made up for it by scoring the winner on the hour mark.
Napoli and Milan both have the opportunity to go second when they meet at the Stadio San Paolo on Monday evening. A win for third-placed Milan would see them leapfrog Inter and cut Lazio’s lead to two points, while a victory by two goals or more would see the hosts jump from sixth and overtake Inter by virtue of their superior goal tally.

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