Italian Serie A Week 19: A Thriller In Milan, A Uruguayan In Naples, And A Comeback In Sicily

NAPLES, ITALY - JANUARY 09: Edinson Cavani of SSC Napoli scores the third goal during the Serie A match between SSC Napoli and Juventus FC at Stadio San Paolo on January 9, 2011 in Naples, Italy.(Photo by Claudio Villa/Getty Images)

Italian football continues its quest to prove those "crying" boring haven't watched a match this season. Sure, Cesena, fighting to stay out of the relegation zone, held Genoa to a 0-0 draw, but the Seahorses are simply terrified of a drop. And yes, Chievo Verona did more than simply park a bus against Palermo - the home side put no strikers on the field to succeed in keeping the Rosanero from vaulting into third place. But these sorts of defensive spectacles were overcome by the true thrillers seen around Italy on Sunday.

The day kicked off with Sampdoria hosting AS Roma. Considering Samp hadn't scored in over a month, while Roma had only lost once in their last five matches, climbing up the table to fourth, the visitors must have loved their chances, particularly after Mirko Vučinić opened the scoring. Yet Sampdoria put the Romans in their place as well as on their backsides, finishing with just nine men to Roma's ten. Roma's goalkeeper Julio Sergio was sent off in the 58th minute, but defender Juan took the brunt of the criticism. His misplayed backpass saw Angelo Palombo surging into the box, with the keeper mistiming his tackle and seeing red. Then in the 83rd minute, Juan gifted the ball to Stefano Guberti, who put it in the net for Samp's 2-1winner.

Neutrals watching Udinese's visit to AC Milan were in for a real treat, with eight goals scored inside the San Siro. Serie A's leaders looked helpless to contain the visitors' attack, spurred on by Antonio Di Natale and Alexis Sánchez. A brace by Di Natale, bracketed by a Sánchez goal, put Udinese up 3-1 by the 66th minute, Milan's goal coming through Alexandre Pato. Just when it seemed there was no way the Rossoneri would break through the Udinese defense, one of their own made it past the keeper. The own goal by Medhi Benatia paved the way for another Pato goal, and it seemed the match would end at 3-3. But Udinese had other ideas, making a fool of Milan defender Daniele Bonera for the second time when Germán Denis put in the fourth goal. Just after, Zlatan Ibrahimović rescued a point for the home side, heading the ball into the net in the 90th minute. Seriously ... go catch a replay (although be warned, you may develop a crush on Udinese).

Those that chose to watch the blue and black side of Milan didn't have quite so many thrills and chills to endure. Catania certainly didn't make it easy on Inter Milan, with Maxi Lopez leading the forward assault. It was Alejandro Gómez, however, who put the home side in the lead at the 71st minute, but that lead lasted for all of three minutes. Esteban Cambiasso then bagged a brace inside five minutes, giving Inter the 2-1 win.

Lazio could have used AC Milan's failure to win to move within three points at the top of the table, yet they contrived to lose, at home, to relegation battlers Lecce. And when I say contrived, I mean Lazio opened the scoring with an own goal by keeper Fernando Muslera, with Andrea Bertolacci's shot bouncing off the woodwork, on to the Uruguayan's back, and into the net. Lazio turned around and equalized within two minutes, with Stefano Mauri putting the ball in the net, but it was Lecce's counterattack in the 72nd minute that brought Carlos Grossmuller to the back post, where he tapped the ball in for the 2-1 win.

In the final comeback of Week 19, Fiorentina came back from 2-0 against Brescia to find three goals in the space of 15 minutes, leaving Brescia stuck in 19th place. Goals by Alberto Gilardino, Mario Alberto Santana and Adem Ljajić gave the Viola a 3-2 win.

Things weren't quite as exciting at Bari, where Bologna coasted to a 2-0 win over the bottom-dwellers, lifting themselves into 10th in the process. Parma at least tried to make it a game against visiting Cagliari, finding a second half goal, but after losing at the last minute to AC Milan last week, the Rossoblu weren't about to give away their lead, and the game ended 2-1. 

But Serie A fans found their fix again in the last match of the week, with Juventus traveling to Napoli. After their humiliating 4-1 defeat at Parma on Thursday, many believed The Old Lady would be out for blood. Instead, Napoli's fluid attack tore apart their defense, with Edinson Cavani scoring a hat-trick of headed goals. Napoli's final goal was a thing of beauty, one to seek out and watch again and again. The front three combined to maximum effectiveness, proving that the partenopei are not just a one man team (even if one man does have twelve goals): Ezequiel Lavezzi took the ball forward before sending a reverse pass to Marek Hamšík, running up the right flank. Hamšík chipped the ball across the area, where Cavani shook off his man, diving forward to meet the ball with his head. 3-0 to Napoli as they move into second place in Serie A.

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