Week 33 Serie A action round-up – Relegation battlers surprise big boys

It proved to be an exciting, if not shocking, weekend in Serie A as Napoli stunned Inter in spectacular fashion and rock-bottom Reggina drew with fallen Juve. With the Partenopei’s stunning goal, the Scudetto race is now back on as Milan have edged ever closer to the top leaving disheartened Juve in third place.

With José Mourinho admitting his side were outplayed, it would be interesting to see if this defeat will provoke further upsets in the next five weeks and restore some friendly competition for the push to claim the Scudetto.

Saturday April 25, 2009

Fiorentina 4 -1 Roma

Fiorentina played host to Roma in a match that saw Roma President Rosella Sensi blast her team for their miserable performance on Saturday night. She went on to demand a more “professional” response in line with the high wages earned by her players in a harsh statement published on the club’s website.

Roma all but relinquished their spot in next year’s Champions League in a sensational match that saw la Viola’s Juan Vargas break the deadlock with a truly magnificent left footed effort from the 30 yards. Roma quickly tried to react but could only respond with wide shots. The Giallorossi continued to press but lady luck was not on their side as Júlio Baptista was wrongly accused of playing offside and Matteo Brighi squandered a beautiful chance in front of an open goal.

Two minutes after half time, Alberto Gilardino doubled the home side’s advantage with a fierce header. Roma’s bitterness reared its ugly head once more when David Pizarro was sent-off for a second bookable offence leaving a ten man Roma two goals behind.

Unable to battle through their anguish, Roma conceded again when Gilardino made it three with a cool strike into the bottom right hand corner. Massimo Gobbi then drilled the final nail into Roma’s coffin with a goal immediately after coming on as a substitute to ensure the visitors were left humiliated. Baptista’s efforts were finally rewarded with a consolation goal in the end that really did nothing to restore their pride and the Giallorossi now find themselves six points from the coveted 4th place.

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Sunday April 26, 2009

Reggina 2-2 Juventus

The Bianconeri went to Stadio Granillo desperately needing a win after a devastating round of recent results that saw Juventus crash out of the Coppa Italia at the hands of Lazio. The fans demonstrated their impatience with Juve’s current management at their training ground the next day, demanding to know reasons behind their team’s terrible performances of late. Meanwhile the home side went in desperate to get all three points in hopes of avoiding relegation.

Both were unsuccessful in their attempts to secure a win. The home side went ahead both times but saw their efforts wasted as the Old Lady fought tooth and nail to equalise on both occasions to ensure she would not suffer another humiliating defeat.

With Giorgio Chellini missing in action and Molinaro featuring at the back, Juventus looked somewhat unsteady at the back. Reggina drew first blood as the home side shockingly scored a goal on the 27th minute when Antonino Barilla was left totally unmarked.

With aggressive tackles from the home side’s goalkeeper and captain, Reggina were lucky not to have had a man sent-off and concede several more goals. Unlucky Juventus have now lost their second place spot in the league with dreams of the Scudetto well and truly dashed.

Milan 3-0 Palermo

Having won five of their last six games, Milan are in remarkable shape as they hosted Palermo on Sunday afternoon. Considering their extensive injury list and Palermo’s fully fit team, the Rossoneri managed to secure all three points as they laughed on their way to second place in the league, leaving behind a miserable Juventus.

The controversial penalty awarded to Milan after only eight minutes saw a psychological fall in the visitors’ mentality and the home side go ahead with a Kaká kick. Needless to say, they controlled play for much of the first half as Palermo found it hard to regain composure and threaten Milan’s defence.

The second half saw Palermo change tactics to a formation of 4-3-3 to really try and push forward and claim the important equaliser. But the tactics backfired as holes appeared in the back leaving Kaká with several chances to extend the home side’s lead. Exasperated and angry, Palermo had Cesare Bovo red carded for his tackle on the Brazilian and the game was well and truly over. With only ten men, Palermo lost the battle with further goals from a joyous Filippo Inzaghi and Kaká.

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With the early penalty decision, Palermo never really had a chance and it was unfortunate to see them give up in a game that could have proved to be a lot more competitive.

Napoli 1-0 Inter

Napoli went into the match full of woes and lacking in confidence. Having not secured a win since mid January, with captain Paolo Cannavaro suspended and an injury list that would trouble any coach, Napoli was hoping to avoid defeat against a fully fit Inter.

Inter, having failed to score enough and go to the final of the Coppa Italia could focus their entire resources on winning their fourth consecutive Scudetto. With Mario Balotelli and Zlatan Ibrahimović leading the attack, Napoli’s goalkeeper Nicolas Navarro did well to ensure the visitors did not take an early lead.

The home side’s lack of confidence was evident when Ezequiel Lavezzi was unable to convert three chances on goal and the game appeared destined to end in a dull draw. However, after half time it was evident Napoli Coach Roberto Donadoni had pleaded with his troops to push forward and secure their first win under the ex-Azzurri coach.

With that in mind, Marcelo Zalayeta came on full of energy and as if inspired by glorious memories of his goal against Inter last season, scored in divine fashion. With a strike that will be replayed a thousand times by the Partenopei faithful, Napoli stunned the league leaders and flung the doors wide open for the Scudetto race.

Bologna 2-0 Genoa

“I do not want to see Genoa play like we did today, this is not the performance we are accustomed too.” cried Genoa Coach Gian Piero Gasperini as Genoa disappointed once again. The Champions League place is slowly drifting out of reach as il Grifone suffered their second consecutive defeat against relegation battling Bologna at the Stadio Renato Dall’Ara.

With a tough match coming up next week against local rivals Sampdoria, Genoa desperately needed a win on Sunday to strengthen their hold on fourth place and maintain their advantage over Fiorentina. Bologna was hoping a win to step out of the relegation zone especially after a thrashing last week at the hands of Palermo.

Bologna’s cry for help from the fans seemed to work as a defensive mistake gifted the home side a penalty to make it 1-0 in the 14th minute. Despite Genoa’s aggressive start and frantic responses for an equaliser, the home side extended their lead through set pieces as Christian Terzi took advantage of a Martins Adailton free-kick to hurriedly scrape a goal past Genoa’s Rubinho in goal.

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Il Grifone ran forward in hopes of claiming one back but were unable to find any gaps in the back to create any real chances. The home side’s rushed final effort proved enough to send Genoa home trailing Fiorentina in fifth place for a chance in the Champions League.

Chievo 1-2 Udinese

Lazio 0-1 Atalanta

Lecce 2-1 Catania

Sampdoria 3-3 Cagliari

Torino 1-0 Siena

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