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It took the full 90 minutes and then some, but Lazio ended a five match losing streak to AS Roma with a 2-1 win on Sunday. Miroslav Klose struck in stoppage time to end the Lazio drought against their rivals as they capitalized on a red card issued to Simon Kjaer to come back from a 2-1 deficit for the three points.
With five wins in their last five matches against Lazio, Roma looked well on their way to another win when Pablo Osvaldo brought a pass from Miralem Pjanic down with his chest and finishing smartly only five minutes into the match. Roma were ahead, they had the recent history behind them and they kept that lead through the first half as they looked destined for three points.
The match was turned on its head five minutes after the break though when Kjaer was shown the door. He took down Chris Brocchi in the box and the referee showed no hesitation in giving him the red card. Hernanes then stepped to the spot and knocked home the penalty for the equalizer.
Up a man, Lazio had complete control of the match. Maarten Stekelenberg made several fine saves and Klose missed just wide twice and hit the crossbar, while Djibril Cisse also hit the bar. Klose finally got the goal Lazio needed and deserved though thanks to some help from Francesco Matuzalem. The Brazilian played a great chipped pass into the German, who controlled and slotted it home just before the death to win it for Lazio.
Six matches have been played in Serie A thus far on Sunday of Week 6 -- and only Bologna have managed to score. Not only that, but the rossoblu took two goals, one by Gaston Ramirez, one by Robert Acquafresca. Not fair, Bologna. Don't you know to share? Or to stick to the plot? All matches were set to end 0-0, and you went and screwed over the rest of the league. For shame.
In a trend that Lazio - AS Roma will likely embrace, there have been more red cards than goals thus far on Sunday. The first red card went to Adrian Mutu, a straight red for lashing out against Fiorentina's Manuel Pasqual. Fortunately for Cesena, the Viola were away from home, so had no desire to use their extra man to their advantage. Giampiero Pinzi's sending off took Udinese down to 10 men, but Atalanta couldn't capitalize. Kakha Kaladze earned himself two yellow cards in less than a minute, but, unsurprisingly, Lecce couldn't score a goal against 10-man Genoa.
For those of you that like your scores ordered and summarized:
Cesena 0-0 Fiorentina
Atalanta 0-0 Udinese
Cagliari 0-0 Siena
Genoa 0-0 Lecce
Novara 0-0 Bologna.
To be fair to Chievo Verona - Juventus, this 0-0 draw is fairly entertaining, featuring plenty of pressing from the visitors, and quick counter-attacks from the Flying Donkeys. Being unable to watch any other match (please explain why Juventus is on both Fox Soccer and ESPN3, when Udinese is on no legal source -- thanks), I can't say for certain whether they are dire or incredibly exciting.
What is for sure, however, is that more than thirty minutes have passed in five Serie A matches, and not a single goal has been scored. Combine that with the goalless draw between Cesena and Fiorentina earlier today, and that's 240 minutes passed in Serie A without a goal.
Let me tell you, Italian football, this is not a way to go about re-branding yourself to the world. I try and try to defend you, going around telling everyone that you're so much more exciting than English football, so much more competitive than Spanish football -- and then you go and trot out a bunch of scoreless matches.
Now get scoring, already.
Both Juventus and Udinese do battle away from home this morning, looking to extend their unbeaten streaks and remain safe at the top of the Serie A table. The Old Lady, however, face a bit of a bogey team: Chievo, and in particular Sergio Pellissier, really seem to enjoy scoring against Juve. In general, Chievo really seem to like wrecking things for teams at the top of the league, so if you believe in superstition...
Chievo Verona Starting XI: Stefano Sorrentino; Gennaro Sardo, Santiago Morero, Bostjan Cesar, Bojan Jokic; Michael Bradley, Luca Rigoni, Peparim Hetemaj; Paolo Sammarco ; Cyril Thereau, Sergio Pellissier
Chievo Bench: Marco Andreolli, Davide Moscardelli, Christian Puggioni, Alberto Paloschi, Nicolas Frey, Kamil Vacek, Rinaldo Cruzado
On Saturday, Napoli decided to show the entire world why it doesn't necessarily matter if a team has the ball for an entire match. The Partenopei had possession for two-thirds of their home match against Parma, but struggled to create chances until they went for broke at the end of the match. Parma kept their shape well and finished the couple of chances they were able to create to make Napoli pay, and they've walked away from Naples with a massive three points in a 2-1 win.
Massimo Gobbi opened the scoring in the 57th minute, spicing up what had previously been a fairly boring match, with Sergio Floccari providing the assist. This woke up Walter Mazzarri, who made the risky move of bringing on Giuseppe Mascara for Salvatore Aronica in the 65th minute. His move paid off in the 76th minute, when Mascara finished off a great move for Napoli, equalizing after a setup by Walter Gargano and Ezequiel Lavezzi.
However, Mazzarri's gamble would eventually backfire, as his defense faltered in the 82nd minute. Sebastian Giovinco provided the assist on the winner, hitting a well-placed low cross to the back post from the right side of the field, and poorly marked Francesco Modesto tapped it in to give Parma an unlikely winner.
It's fair to say AC Milan had a rough start to the season, winning just one match -- and that one against bottom-dwelling Cesena. But the rossoneri re-asserted their right to be in the running for this year's title with Saturday's 3-0 thrashing of Palermo. Goals by Antonio Nocerino, Robinho and Antonio Cassano brought about a rare sound in Serie A these days: the noise of the crowd at the San Siro. And with Inter Milan's loss to Catania earlier in the day, the Milan supporters couldn't have been more thrilled.
The match started off fairly evenly, and it wasn't hard to imagine that Palermo might get some, or even all, of the points from the game -- particularly after Thiago Silva went off injured in the 34th minute, replaced by Daniele Bonera. But the loss of a key defender only seemed to energize Milan, with their goal coming just five minutes later, in the 39th. Nocerino, a late transfer-day acquisition from Palermo, scored against his former club, knocking in Alberto Aquilani's header from close range.
But Milan, perhaps wary of a Palermo equalizer, elected to stop on the visitors' pride a bit more. Zlatan Ibrahimovic muscled his way up the pitch and spotted Robinho racing up the left flank. Receiving the pass, the Brazilian easily continue to outpace the Palermo players, and easily fired it past Alexandros Tzorvas in goal.
Palermo had clearly had enough by that point, and it wasn't even the 60th minute. Despite attempts by caretaker manager Devis Mangia to change things up -- replacing Abel Hernandez with Mauricio Pinilla, shifting to a 4-4-1-1 with the removal of Fabrizio Miccoli in favor of Edgar Alvarez -- nothing brought them even close to goal.
Cassano drove the final nail into Palermo's coffin (will it be Mangia resting in the coffin? Only Zamparini knows) with his goal in the 63rd minute. The forward had a shot ruled out for offside just a few minutes before, so he made sure this one counted, evading a Palermo tackle and sending a hard shot into the far corner. 3-0, and despite Ibrahimovic's attempts to find a goal of his own, that's where it ended for Milan.
And so the rossoneri finally find another win -- will others falter, making room for Milan to claw their way back up the table? Or maybe we should all realize there are more than thirty matches left to play, and leave the scudetto talk for the dark days of winter.
It's a good day to be an AC Milan player -- if your surname (or, come to think of it, first name) ends in "o", that is. First Antonio Nocerino scored for Milan. Then Robinho doubled the lead over Palermo. Now it's Antonio Cassano's turn. He had a goal ruled out for offside earlier, which likely made the Italian just a bit pissy. He got his revenge, though, evading a sliding Palermo player and firing a sharp shot into the far corner of the net. Alexandros Tzorvas could do nothing but look on.
In response, Abel Hernandez makes way for Mauricio Pinilla for Palermo, while Urby Emanuelson came on for Robinho -- perhaps resting him up for Milan's midweek Champions League match? Palermo, meanwhile, must be wondering what on earth they're doing wrong. After all, their team name ends in an -o, for goodness sake. Shouldn't that count for something? What about Eros Pisano? Perhaps he has a goal in him?
It's a long road back for Palermo now, as they've gone down 2-0 to AC Milan at the San Siro. The goal belongs to Robinho, always so masterful at eventually finding the goal after a dozen attempts that go wide, high, or just nowhere near their destination. Zlatan Ibrahimovic took the ball through the middle before spotting Robinho running up the left. The Brazilian easily shook off the pursuit of Palermo, pulled ahead and fired one past goalkeeper Alexandros Tzorvas to give Milan a 2-0 lead.
Minutes later, Antonio Cassano, who'd also seen shots go wide today, managed to get one in the back of the net. Unfortunately for Fatantonio, the referee blew the whistle for offside. Still, it seems certain another goal is coming for Max Allegri's side.
With thirty minutes left to play, will the visitors find a response? The only answer so far has been to replace Fabrizio Miccoli with Edgar Alvarez, shifting the formation to a 4-4-1-1. But considering the majority of the second half has been played near the Palermo box, it doesn't seem to be working well just yet.
On a set scale of boringness, where exciting games are represented by the most exciting thing you've ever seen in sports and boring games are represented by Cerro Porteño, the first half of Saturday afternoon's Napoli-Parma encounter ranked as somewhere between a Stoke City and a Greece. It's been fairly dire stuff, though both of these teams have some quality and aren't usually dull. This could just be a feeling out before the fireworks, but at the moment, the score is 0-0 at halftime and there haven't been many chances.
Each goalkeeper has only been asked to make one save, and both saves have been routine. To be fair to the teams, both defenses have been impeccable and there's actually a pretty high technical standard in this game. Napoli are passing and keeping the ball very well, but their front three hasn't been able to break through. Parma's midfield is keeping their shape well, looking like a flat wall of four players in front of the defense at all times.
Parma's going to be content with a draw, so it's up to Napoli to push the action in this one. Ezequiel Lavezzi, in particular hasn't been his normal self and might need to quickly up his game or come out of the match.
AC Milan has a 1-0 lead over Palermo going into halftime at the San Siro. It was Antonio Nocerino who grabbed the goal, stabbing the knife just a little harder into the heart of his former club. Zlatan Ibrahimovic fought off the Palermo defense, turned, and sent a cross to Alberto Aquilani on the right side of the pitch. Aquilani headed it on to Nocerino, who knocked it in from close range.
Good news for Milan, who saw their best defender limp off the pitch in the 34th minute. Thiago Silva picked up an injury in the 15th minute and simply couldn't continue, being replaced by Daniele Bonera. With that shaky defense, Milan are going to need to score a few, because it seems almost inevitable that Palermo will find at least one.
Then again, if Palermo don't patch up their own defense, especially on the right, this could become a goal-scoring free-for-all -- which I'm sure no neutrals would object to. Both squads need to find the finish in the final third, however, before we see a 4-3 scoreline. Abel Hernandez has shot wide for Palermo, while Antonio Cassano has found the side netting, and Ibra sent one inches wide, for the rossoneri.
AC Milan defender Thiago Silva, injured in the 15th minute, has had to come off, saying "No faccio piu" to the sidelines. He can't go on, and so Daniele Bonera replaces him in the 34th minute. Good news, perhaps, for Palermo, as Thiago Silva helped compensate for the inclusion of both the aging Alessandro Nesta and the we've-got -no-one-else Luca Antonini. Considering the lack of finishing ability in the final third, it's certain that Max Allegri's first choice of substitution would not have been Bonera for Thiago Silva.
Then again, considering some of the names on the Milan bench, Allegri probably didn't have many options to help with the attack, and has likely resorted to simply crossing his fingers and praying that the Milan injury apocalypse of 2011 is nearly over. With the weak defense, it's hard to imagine high-scoring Palermo won't score at least one, so now the burden's on the Milan forwards to simply score more.
Is it just me that doesn't know a couple of the names on the Milan bench? Are last year's title winners really that burdened by injury? Yes, it appears they are, with Antonini getting another start in defense, and both Nocerino and Aquilani running out in midfield.
The rossoneri are desperate for a win here at the San Siro, but Palermo are off to a bright start this season, and will want to keep their pace with Napoli and Cagliari.
AC Milan Starting XI: Christian Abbiati; Ignazio Abate, Alessandro Nesta, Thiago Silva, Luca Antonini; Antonio Nocerino, Mark Van Bommel, Alberto Aquilani; Robinho; Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Antonio Cassano
Palermo Starting XI: Alexandros Tzorvas; Eros Pisano, Matias Silvestre, Giulio Migliaccio, Andrea Mantovani; Nicolas Bertolo, Edgar Barreto, Francesco Della Rocca, Josep Ilicic; Abel Hernandez, Fabrizio Miccoli
Palermo Bench: Francesco Benussi, Edgar Alvarez, Mauricio Pinilla, Mauro Cetto, Matias Aguirregaray, Afriyie Acquah, Eran Zehavi
Inter Milan took an early lead in the sixth minute against Catania through a goal by Esteban Cambiasso, but the home side fought back in the second half. Sergio Almiron scored on a lovely ball to give the Elephants their first, and five minutes later, Francesco Lodi converted a penalty to give Catania the 2-1 lead and eventual win.
It seemed as though Inter were ready to announce their revival, storming out in the wet Sardinian evening to remind Serie A that they still are scudetto contenders. With barely five minutes played, Maicon sent in a cross from the right side. Cambiasso, unmarked near the goal, stretched to toe the ball past Mariano Andújar and into the back of the net.
Despite an early goal, Inter never really took control of the match, allowing Catania to repeatedly get behind the defense and threaten goal. Fortunately for the nerazzurri, none of the Catania shots on goal were actually on target, and Inter took the 1-0 lead into the break.
However, Claudio Ranieri must have forgotten to remind his team that this is a game of two halves (and presumably, they rarely listen when sportscasters spout the tired cliche). Weakened by the rain, tired on aging legs...whatever it was, Inter just couldn't find their way into the match in the second half. Catania scored while Inter were still in the dressing room, it seemed, with Gonzalo Bergessio breaking away quickly before sending the ball on to Almiron. The midfielder sent a lovely lob over the head of Luca Castellazzi to give the Elephants their equalizer.
Another cliche that Inter apparently forgot: "Don't get mad, get even." Instead, Castellazzi went with mad, fouling Bergessio, earning a yellow card and conceding a penalty. Lodi stepped up to take, driving it past Castellazzi and causing Inter supporters to wonder where, exactly, Julio Cesar was today.
The match calmed down after that, with Catania content to preserve the lead, although Andrea Catellani came close shortly after coming on for Alejandro Gomez, forcing Castellazzi into a save. Inter, meanwhile, lacked the creative spark to find an equalizer. When the final whistle blew, an extremely wet Vincenzo Montella looked undisturbed by the beads of rain falling off his unadorned head, celebrating as his Catania take up sixth position (until tomorrow, at least).
It seems that Claudio Ranieri forgot to tell Inter Milan to show up for the second half in Catania. Just a few minutes after play resumed, the visitors were caught on the break, with Gonzalo Bergessio charging the ball up from the Catania half. A quick pass to his left, where Sergio Almiron was ready and willing to grab the ball. The midfielder looped it over the head of Luca Castellazzi to give Catania an equalizer.
But Castellazzi's night was about to get worse, as he was shown a yellow card less than five minutes after Almiron scored, for a foul on Bergessio. Catania earned a penalty, cooly taken by Francesco Lodi, who gave the home side the 2-1 lead.
30 minutes left to go and Inter have used all their substitutions. Ranieri first pulled off Dejan Stankovic and Diego Milito in favor of Ricardo Alvarez and Mauro Zarate. Two minutes later, Walter Samuel went down injured, and so Ivan Cordoba came on in his place. Will the new look find the nerazzurri a share of the points?
It's pissing down rain in Catania, piling more misery on the home side, who are down after just six minutes. Inter Milan came to Sardinia clearly looking to pull themselves up from the bottom of the table, making an early impression through the work of Maicon and Esteban Cambiasso. Maicon put in a lovely cross from the right wing, with Cambiasso, alone near the far post getting his left toe on it to poke it home. Pretty? Not in the finish, but the nerazzurri won't be complaining.
The early goal has certainly opened up the match, however, with Catania determined to find an answering goal, flying down both wings. Inter, meanwhile, look to want not just one more but two or three additional goals. It's the home side that are getting into the more dangerous positions, however, with Alejandro Gomez and Mariano Izco both frustrating the Inter defense. Still no smiles on Montella's wet face, however.
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