The Rossoneri leapfrogged Juventus into second place on a dramatic weekend in Serie A, where just three of the top ten were victorious.
Juventus 2-3 Cagliari
Juventus had the chance to close in on Inter as they took on Cagliari at the Stadio Olimpico on Saturday evening. The visitors went into the game on the back off three straight wins while The Old Lady were looking to get their title bid back on track following their midweek set-back at Udinese. But Claudio Ranieri’s men got off to a sloppy start as Marco Marchionni’s defensive error gifted Davide Biondini the chance to nod in from close range after just 15 minutes. However the home side turned the game on its head before halftime as Momo Sissoko rose highest to head in from a corner before Pavel Nedved netted his fourth of the season with a ferocious close range strike following good work from Cristian Molinaro. The writing seemed on the wall for the in-form Isolani but they returned to produce an astonishing second half and earn a surprising but fully deserved victory. Brazilian forward Jeda slid home Andrea Cossu’s precise cross following a sweeping counter attack before Alessandro Matri fired home the winner thanks to a neat give and go with Andrea Lazzari to send Massimiliano Allegri’s men seventh. Juventus meanwhile will have to pick themselves up following a miserable week which included two shock defeats and more vital names on the injury list.
Lazio 0-3 Milan
Carlo Ancelotti’s men produced a devastating display as they crushed Lazio, where David Beckham was again in impressive form. The England midfielder laying Alexandre Pato’s opener on a plate after being released down the right channel, as Milan headed into half time holding a slender advantage. Beckham was again the provider as il Diavolo doubled their lead immediately after the restart. The former Real Madrid man’s free kick picked out Massimo Ambrosini who had the simple task of heading past the stranded Fernando Muslera. Kaka put the icing on the cake with a late goal as he combined with Clarence Seedorf before slotting the ball in the far corner to cap a dominant display and lift them above the Bianconeri. However Lazio slip to tenth as their wretched form continues.
Inter 1-1 Torino
Inter endured yet another frustrating day as they were held at home by struggling Torino. The Granata produced a surprisingly solid display, frustrating the hosts for large periods of the match. They even took the lead shortly after the restart, as former Manchester City forward Rolando Bianchi looped his header over the despairing Julio Cesar after he had been found by Ignazio Abate’s superb cross. However the lead lasted just 12 minutes as Nicolas Burdisso beat the Toro goalkeeper to the ball to nod in from a corner kick. The Nerazzurri did press for the remaining half an hour but failed to create any decent opportunities, forcing the home fans to vent their frustration solely on summer signing Ricardo Quaresma, whose form has been criticised since his big-money move. The home fans reaction won’t do the Portuguese winger’s confidence any good as Jose Mourinho’s men again drop vital points despite Zlatan Ibrahimovic heading against the post in the dying embers.
Reggina 2-2 Roma
Elsewhere, Reggina halted Roma’s rampage up the table, mainly thanks to a horrendous error from Giallorossi substitute Simone Loria ten minutes from time. Bernardo Corradi won and converted a first half penalty before a brace from David Pizarro put the Magica firmly in control. The former Inter man unleashed an unstoppable strike from the edge of the area to send the teams in level at the break before tapping in from close range after seeing his second-half penalty kick saved. It looked for all the world the Chilean midfield had won his side the match as the Amaranto struggled to force any clear openings. But as Luciano Spalletti sent on Loria with ten minutes remaining in an attempt to help see the game out, the journeyman defender immediately proceeded gift the ball straight to the feet of the on rushing Francesco Cozza who was on hand to simply slide to ball in. A disastrous way to end a run of three wins on the trot but the Romans stay fifth with Reggina still rooted to foot of the table.
Napoli 2-2 Udinese
Napoli and Udinese served up an enthralling encounter at the Stadio San Paolo where Fabio Quagliarella’s stunning volley rescued a point for the Zebrette. Two goals in as many minutes had the Azzurri cruising to victory against their out-of-sorts rivals, but the Bianconeri produced a sterling comeback to steal a gritty point. Ezequiel Lavezzi gave the home side a deserved lead midway through the first half when his deflected effort left Samir Handanovic no chance. And when Marek Hamsik’s near post header doubled the Partenopei’s advantage two minutes later, it looked like Udinese’s midweek revival was a false dawn. But the Zebrette were handed a lifeline when Paulo Cannavaro’s needless high challenge earned the visitors a penalty – which Di Natale duly converted. And as if the first half hadn’t been thrilling enough, Quagliarella stepped up to unleash some kind of swivel volley/bicycle kick from outside the area that found the bottom corner and had the whole stadium looking on in disbelief. It was to be the last goal of the game leaving Napoli eighth and winless in four but an encouraging point for the Bianconeri ending their most successful week in months.
Genoa 1-0 Palermo
Meanwhile, Genoa consolidated their grip on fourth spot with a hard fought win over ninth place Palermo. Domenico Criscito’s 88th minute winner was the difference as he tapped in Bosko Jankovic’s low cross to hand the Rossoblu a deserved victory.
Atalanta 1-0 Catania
Atalanta prevailed in the mid-table clash as Catania’s winless 2009 continued. Although the Rossazzurri can have plenty to gripe about after seeing an injury time goal disallowed for an invisible offside. It was Tiberio Guarente’s low drive that proved the difference after the Elefanti could only half clear a corner.
Chievo 1-1 Sampdoria
Chievo kept their decent run of form going as they held Sampdoria in a tight clash that was largely void of incident but for two minutes of madness. Giampaolo Pazzini netted his first goal for his new club when his sharp half volley found the top corner, before Luca Rigoni’s looping header found the net just a couple of minutes later despite desperate attempts to clear it off the line. It just may well prove to be an important point for Ceo although no doubt they would have seen this as a chance to get even more, when hosting a bottom half team.
Siena 1-2 Lecce
Mario Beretta’s Lecce side secured a massive win at his former team Siena despite playing the majority of the game with ten men. Simone Tiribocchi put Lecce in front on a quarter of an hour after being put in on goal by Guillermo Giacomazzi’s clever chipped ball before keeping his cool and slotting in against his former employers. But Giacomazzi went from hero to villain as he received his second booking for a deliberate handball and was promptly sent off, leaving the Giallorossi having to play the remaining 50 minutes a man light. Despite this, the Salentini doubled their advantage when Jose Castillo stole a march on his marker before flicking a corner kick in at the near post. However, the Ruber did get into the match when substitute Abdelkader Ghezzal headed in with 12 minutes still on the clock, but their late pressure came to nothing.
Bologna P-P Fiorentina
Elsewhere, Fiorentina’s match at Bologna was called off because heavy snow on the pitch and has been re-scheduled for Monday 2nd February.
So no doubt the big winners of the weekend’s fixtures has to be Milan as they move to just six points adrift of Inter, and with Becks alongside Kaka and Pato firing on all cylinders, who would bet against them closing that gap on their nervous-looking rivals.