The top six sides all won in Week 25, but it wasn’t plain sailing for Inter, Roma or Juventus in preparation for their midweek Champions League ties.
Saturday February 21, 2009
Bologna 1-2 Inter Milan
Jose Mourinho’s side will be relieved to have come away from this game with three points after an evenly-matched game at league strugglers Bologna on Saturday.
The Nerazzurri fielded their strongest team, despite the upcoming Champions League tie with Manchester United, and came away with a fortunate win which gives them a nine-point lead in the Scudetto race. Inter started strongly and Ibrahimovic’s low drive was well parried by Francesco Antonioli before Zenoni stung Julio Cesar’s hands with a powerful effort for the home side. The league leaders then should have had two goals in the space of a few minutes. Swedish talisman Ibrahimovic glanced a simple header wide from ten yards, and Muntari fired well over when through on goal. Bologna were looking lively and Bologna’s Marco Di Vaio was only stopped from giving his side the lead by a flying interception by Julio Cesar, and Sergio Volpi’s free-kick’s also came close for the Rossoblu.
The scores locked at half time, Inter broke the deadlock just before the hour – Esteban Cambiasso firing home from close range after a Douglas Maicon corner. Bologna piled on the pressure, Cesar’s reflexes twice called into action – but grabbed a deserved equaliser with ten minutes remaining when Britos scored a debut goal with a glancing header that evaded Cambiasso at the far post. The away side stole the lead when substitute Mario Balotelli’s free-kick missed everybody and bounced off the post and in, to give Inter a lucky win, and stretch their lead in the title race.
Roma 1-0 Siena
Rodrigo Taddei sunk his former club with a stunning goal at the Stadio Olimpico that moved the depleted home side temporarily into 4th place.
Despite missing Daniel De Rossi, Simone Perrotta, Mirko Vucinic, Marco Cassetti, Jeremy Menez, Alberto Aquilani, and Max Tonetto due to injuries, suspensions and players being rested, the Giallorossi will be pleased to have come away from this turgid affair with three points. Siena were organised from the start and Roma only managed their first shot on target half-way through the first half, a shot from Julio Baptista that was beaten away by Siena goalkeeper Siena. Minutes later the Brazilian could have scored again, only for his header to be denied by a Curci save once again.
Siena had chances of their own, Massimo Maccarone’s free-kick just wide of Doni’s goal and substitute Nicola Amoroso forcing a fine save from Doni. There were more half-chances for both sides, with Roma coming especially close from Baptista’s free-kick and Francesco Totti was only denied by brave goalkeeping by Curci. However, former Siena favourite Taddei scored the match-winning goal with an hour gone when he curled a beautiful shot into the top right-hand corner after the away side failed to clear a free-kick. Siena had chances to draw the game through Maccarone and a Ghezzal header, but Roma – who lost Juan and Cicinho in the game to injuries- held on for the win.
Palermo 0-2 Juventus
Juventus continued their pursuit of Inter with a win at Palermo on Saturday evening.
A superb solo goal by Momo Sissoko and a late effort from David Trezeguet sealed the win which keeps the Old Lady nine points behind the league leaders. Palermo started well and were denied the lead when Gianluigi Buffon parried Fabrizio Miccoli’s effort from close range, and Edison Cavani could not make the most of the follow-up. Miccoli almost scored again minutes later, hitting a powerful right-foot shot that cannoned off the crossbar but there after Juventus came to life. Captain for the day, Trezeguet forced Marco Amelia to save well with his feet, and Pavel Nedved’s snapshot from 20 yards was well beaten away by Amelia again.
Juve opened their account when Sissoko skipped past Fabio Liverani and Cesare Bovo with nimble footwork before unleashing a powerful shot into the roof of the net. Claudio Ranieri’s side could have doubled their lead but Amelia parried efforts from Nedved and Iaquinta, before Palermo’s Cavani missed a glorious chance to draw scores level. Ex-Palermo man Amauri almost scored the 2nd, before Trezeguet converted from Amauri’s cutback to give him his first goal since his injury layoff, and keep Juventus’ title dreams alive.
Sunday February 22, 2009
Milan 1-0 Cagliari
Clarence Seedorf rescued Milan with a goal that beat European hopefuls Cagliari and kept Milan’s faint title hopes alive.
Cagliari arrived at the San Siro in good form, 7th in the Scudetto and having won five of their last six. However, despite a 0-0 draw between the sides earlier in the season, Cagliari had not even picked up a point at the San Siro for almost 10 years. Filippo Inzaghi was at the centre of the action right from the start, almost nodding Milan ahead early on before bringing the best out of Cagliari goalkeeper Federico Marchetti with a fine volley. The away side came back however and only Christian Abbiati’s feet denied Robert Acquafresca five yards from goal. Inzaghi scored from Seedorf’s pass, only for the linesman’s flag to deny the Milan talisman.
Milan pushed on. David Beckham’s cross flashed across goal, Andrea Pirlo shot wide and Inzaghi’s volley lacked conviction. Far from being overawed, Cagliari came back strongly – Cossu first stung Abbiati’s hands with a speculative effort before going one better, hitting the upright from distance. Milan took the lead shortly after the hour, Seedorf turning in after a defensive-mix up at the back for Cagliari. The home side’s confidence grew but despite an array of late chances, couldn’t double their advantage.
Fiorentina 2-1 Chievo
Adrian Mutu was hero once again for the home side, scoring a last-minute goal to keep la Viola’s Champions League qualification hopes alive.
Alberto Gilardino had an early chance for Fiorentina, glancing a header wide of the far post before Chievo took the lead after 13 minutes. Morero volleyed in from six yards after Mario Yepes had headed down Vincenzo Italiano’s corner. Fiorentina appealed for offside only to realise Riccardo Montolivo was playing the opposition onside.
Montolivo was of more use minutes later clearing off the line from a deflected Michele Marconi corner, and Chievo increased their pressure with further efforts from Felipe Melo and Sergio Pellisier. Fiorentina were much stronger after the break, and after a Pasqual free-kick stung Sorrentino’s hands, they took the lead on 73 minutes – Gilardino’s header deflecting into the bottom near corner.
Chievo’s hopes of a positive result were dented when Italiano received his second booking for a foul on Montolivo, and Fiorentina scored yet another last minute goal when Mutu’s powerful effort ricocheted in off Sorrentino’s leg. The away side were livid, claiming a foul in the build-up to the goal – but la Viola claimed the vital win.
Lecce 0-2 Lazio
Lecce were counting the cost of missed chances, hitting the bar three times in the 2-0 defeat at home to Lazio.
Despite having lost two of their last three games, Lecce started well – hitting the post within the first 20 seconds when Daniele Cacia’s angled drive hit the base of the upright. Mauro Zarate beat Francesco Benussi with a fine drive from the edge of the penalty box – only to see the ball cannon against the crossbar, but Lazio got their bit of luck minutes later.
Pasquale Foggia’s volley deflected off Lecce defender Stendardo and flew past Benussi to give Lazio the lead, a lead that should have been doubled through Goran Pandev – but his goal was incorrectly ruled out for offside. Simone Tiribocchi beat three Lazio defenders but saw his shot hit the post, the second time Lecce hit the post in the game. For all their chances, Lazio scored their second minutes after half time, Alexander Kolarov cutting in from the left and smashing a brilliant shot into the top right-hand corner. The Salentini counted the cost of missed chances once more, Ariatti hitting the crossbar distance as Lazio held on for the win.
Napoli 0-1 Genoa
Genoa continued their fine campaign with a hard-fought win against mid-table Napoli on Sunday.
Napoli should have scored early on when German Denis headed over from a Vitale set-piece but Genoa got stronger as the game went on. Genoa’s Diego Milito had a shot parried by Navarro while Ezequiel Lavezzi hit the side-netting down the other end. Lavezzi then hit a powerful effort from range that whistled wide, but the first ended goalless and relatively uneventful.
Genoa should have scored just before the hour, but Bosko Jankovic slipped when put through by Milito. He made amends ten minutes later, when he finished well from Thiago Motta’s clever through ball. Lavezzi volleyed a difficult chance wide but Napoli couldn’t find the goal to earn a draw.
Sampdoria 1-0 Atalanta
Giampaolo Pazzini scored again to clinch Sampdoria a morale-boosting win at home to Atalanta.
In a first half with few chances, Antonio Cassano caused panic among the opposition’s defence early on in the game, before his shot was saved by Andrea Consigli at his near post. Doria goalkeeper Castellazzi had to be alert just before the half time interval, blocking Simone Padoin’s effort to keep the scores level going into the break.
Atalanta could have scored again after the break through Luca Cigarini’s powerful effort, before Pazzini scored his fourth in four games with a fine low volley from Cassano’s chipped pass. Consigli denied Angelo Palombo’s free-kick late on as the home side grabbed a crucial three points.
Torino 1-0 Udinese
Torino won their first game of the year, thanks to Hernan Dellafiore’s late winner at the Stadio Olimpico.
Udinese started the brighter of the two teams, and only the alertness of home goalkeeper Matteo Sereni stopped Antonio Floro Flores from scoring for Udinese. Bianconeri goalkeeper Emanuele Belardi was also at his best, keeping out Andrea Gasbarroni’s free-kick before Torino really took charge of the second half. Cesare Natali nodded just wide for Toro and Rolando Bianchi skewed his shot just wide of goal.
Belardi was peppered with further efforts from Natali and Abate before he was finally beaten, ten minutes from time. Roberto Stellone flicked on Rosina’s free-kick for the waiting Dellafiore to volley in at the back post, and give beleaguered manager Walter Novellino another week’s breathing space.
Catania 2-0 Reggina
Two new signings struck for Catania to ease their relegation troubles against bottom club Reggina.
Catania’s Giuseppe Mascara skimmed the post with an early free-kick and threatened again when he glanced a header wide of the far post. Ciro Capuano scored his first goal for the Sicilians with a low drive from Pablo Ledesma’s cross, giving Catania hope of winning their first game in the year.
Michele Paolucci drove just wide with the home side but the Amaranto grew stronger after the break – even if they failed to convert possessions into chances. Catania finally put the game to bed when Maurizio Lanzaro’s poor headed clearance allowed new boy Potenza to tap in from five yards, to ease the home side’s relegation troubles.