MILAN, ITALY - NOVEMBER 23: Zlatan Ibrahimovic of AC Milan during the UEFA Champions League group H match between AC Milan and FC Barcelona at Giuseppe Meazza Stadium on November 23, 2011 in Milan, Italy. (Photo by Claudio Villa/Getty Images)

Serie A 2011, Week 12: Zlatan Ibrahimovic Scores 100th Serie A Goal, Milan Win 4-0 Over Chievo

AC Milan are up 2-0 over Chievo Verona after just 16 minutes, with Zlatan Ibrahimovic scoring his 100th goal in Serie A.

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Luc Castaignos: The Solution To Inter's Slump?

Following a summer transfer, we have a look at Luc Castaignos's past and future.

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AC Milan Vs. Chievo Verona: Fulltime, Rossoneri Win 4-0

In my halftime report, I suggested that if you had anything, anything at all, planned for the rest of the day, you should go ahead and just start it now, because there was no point in watching the second half of AC Milan vs Chievo Verona. Zlatan Ibrahimovic had already scored,marking his 100th goal in Serie A, plus he got his 101st goal when Luciano brought down Alexandre Pato in the area, gifting a penalty kick to the rossoneri. With the score 4-0 at the halftime whistle, was there really a point to coming back on the pitch? Well, Sergio Pellissier could've managed to score his 100th goal in Serie A as well. But he didn't.

With the exception of Pato managing to make it off the field without picking up an injury, and a Chievo player doing a barrel roll on the pitch with absolutely no prompting whatsoever, nothing happened. Nothing. It was like a tranquilizer with a glass of champagne. Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm off to take a nap.

(If you would like to know what actually happened in the 45 minutes when things did in fact happen, click here).

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AC Milan Vs. Chievo Verona: Rossoneri Up 4-0 At Halftime

Let's see -- AC Milan scored their first goal in the eighth minute, Chievo Verona have barely made it out of their half, much yet tested Marco Amelia, and Zlatan Ibrahimovic has already scored his 100th Serie A goal (as well as his 101st). If you've got plans you were putting off in order to watch this match, by all means, no one will blame you if you skip the second half. There's nothing to see here.

Ibra nearly sent the crowd into shivers of ecstasy when he went for goal within 45 seconds, but his shot was only able to rattle the crossbar. Instead it was Thiago Silva who scored the first for the rossoneri, easily splitting open the defense with a low shot to score his first goal in Serie A this season.

Zlatan's would be the next goal, on 16 minutes. The Milan forward received the pass from Alberto Aquilani and sent a lovely, lingering shot into the top corner of the net. Of course Ibrahimovic's 100th Serie A goal would never be a tap-in, of course it would be something beautiful. Tanti auguri.

The tap-ins would be left for Alexandre Pato to clear up. A Milan corner bounced into the way of Chievo defender Luciano, who failed to clear the ball, letting it fall at the feet of the Duck, who easily tapped in from close range. Ten minutes later, Luciano made it clear what a horrible game he was having, earning a yellow card for bringing down Pato in the area. Ibrahimovic stepped up for his 101st goal.

Seriously....go hang Christmas lights or something.

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Atalanta Vs. Napoli, 2011 Serie A: Fulltime, Edinson Cavani InjuryTime Goal Rescues A Draw For Napoli

It was almost as though the script was already written before Atalanta - Napoli even kicked off. On one hand you've got Germán Denis, former Napoli player who is now leading the Serie A goalscoring charts. On the other is Edinson Cavani, who looked to have found himself back in form with his winning brace against Manchester City midweek. Of course each player was destined to score, and of course each did.

Denis's goal also came just when Napoli are typically at their most vulnerable -- just after Ezequiel Lavezzi came on to replace Goran Pandev. This season the partenopei seem unsettled just after substitutions, even if they're like-for-almost-like (let's face it -- Pandy is no Pocho). Atalanta took advantage of that vulnerability, with Denis easily cutting apart the defense and putting the ball in the back of the net himself.

Napoli appeared as though they had no answers. After all, it's tough to get the ball in the net when there are ten blue-and-black shirts in the way. But Zona Napoli, or Zona Mazzarri, or whatever you might want to call it, has returned, at least for one match. In the last minute of added time, Cavani received the ball from substitute Mario Santana and somehow managed to slide it through the morass of defenders for the equalizer.

 

Also of note: just before the goal by Cavani, it seemed that Lavezzi picked up a yellow for dissent when he kicked up a fuss about the amount of time Denis took to leave the field. But Walter Mazzarri is saying that he was never actually booked, and in fact it was Denis who earned the yellow. Others continue to say that Lavezzi has a yellow card, including several match reports.

Why is this important? Because a yellow would see Pocho miss the next match, midweek against Juventus. As for Juve, Claudio Marchisio did pick up an undisputed yellow, and will be unable to play.

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Lazio Vs. Juventus, 2011 Serie A: Fulltime, Simone Pepe Goal Enough To Keep Juve Top

Despite my predictions that there absolutely had to be more goals in the Lazio - Juventus match on Saturday, in the end it was Simone Pepe's goal in the first half that made the difference. Juventus maintain their unbeaten run and their dominance at the top, a point above Udinese with a game in hand. Next up is Napoli, on Tuesday, and with the partenopei once again faltering -- this time a 1-0 loss to Atalanta -- the Old Lady must feel rather confident right now.

While Lazio retain their temporary hold on third place -- Milan's match against Chievo tomorrow will determine if they stay -- they'll want to pay a bit more attention to their defensive abilities. Federico Marchetti is a total rock, of course, but he shouldn't need to produce so many fine saves -- he'll eventually put a finger out of place, and allow a goal like that from Pepe. The midfielder easily sprang past Stefan Radu, who seemed to be counting the stars above the Olympico to connect with a perfect ball from Alessandro Matri. Even Pepe couldn't miss from there, and so all Juventus needed was to hold on for the next 55 minutes or so.

Oh, but they made it tough for themselves as well, relying too much on Gigi Buffon and the woodwork. Hernanes hit the post; shortly after, Miroslav Klose forced San Gigi into a diving save. But Lazio ran out of steam near the end of the match, with substitute Djibril Cissé unable to create anything, and the others looking out of answers.

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Lazio Vs. Juventus, 2011 Serie A: Halftime, Juve Lead 1-0

There's just been one goal in the first 45 minutes between Lazio and Juventus, but you get the feeling there could have been six or seven, split evenly between the two sides. Hernanes has been an absolute terror this match, troubling the Juventus defense and forcing Gigi Buffon into a decent save. As unfortunate as they've been not to score against the leaky bianconeri defense, the home side is also lucky they're not down by three our four goals. Put that down to a combination of poor efforts from Simone Pepe and great goalkeeping, once again, by Federico Marchetti. It's certainly not due to the Lazio defense, as Stefan Radu, in particular, has been dreadful in this match.

It was Radu, in fact, that allowed Pepe to finally score, from such close range that even he couldn't screw it up. The Juve midfielder broke free of his marker -- Radu looked to be dreaming of his post-match pasta, or perhaps a pick-me-up cappuccino -- to latch on to a perfect pass from Alessandro Matri, racing up the left side. Of course, Pepe then followed this up by going one-on-one with Marchetti but, faced with the open goal, was distracted by the lack of the offside whistle and simply stopped chasing after the ball.

It's amusing, it's fast, players are wearing pink kits and there are almost certainly more goals. Why on earth are you not watching this one?

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Lazio Vs. Juventus, 2011 Serie A: Simone Pepe Gives Juventus A 1-0 Lead

It may have taken 34 minutes for Juventus to score, but there was nothing boring about that first half hour. There's been plenty of speed and plenty of chances at both ends, but it was Simone Pepe who broke the deadlock, oddly enough. Alessandro Matri, tearing up the left flank, played a perfect ball in to Pepe, who took advantage of Stefan Radu having a little nap in defense. He easily outpaced the Lazio player to slot the ball past Federico Marchetti.

But just two minutes later, Pepe, whose mind seems more on his golf game than on this match, managed a one on one with the Lazio keeper, only to pull back a bit and miss an opportunity served for him on a platter. Juventus are almost certainly going to rue these missed chances. Despite the fuss over Hernanes looking a shadow of his former self this season, the Brazilian has been amazing in this match, threatening near goal and forcing Gigi Buffon into at least one great save.

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Lazio Vs. Juventus, 2011 Serie A: Lineups

Lazio - Juventus. It's the match of the weekend. First place Juve against second place Lazio (well, that's what they were at the end of last week, anyway). A draw keeps Udinese top after their 2-0 victory over Roma on Friday, although it's good to remember that the Old Lady do have a game in hand.

This match is really Juve's to lose -- they're still undefeated in Serie A, and despite a midweek training injury to Andrea Pirlo, the playmaker has passed a late fitness test and is included in the starting XI. But their defense still looks shaky, and with Miroslav Klose also fit enough to start, the bianconeri have a tough challenge ahead.

Lazio Starting XI: Federico Marchetti,Abdoulay Konko, Mobido Diakite, Marius Stankevicius, Stefan Radu; Cristian Ledesma, Christian Brocchi, Senad Lulic, Hernanes; Tommaso Rocchi, Miroslav Klose

Juventus Starting XI: Gigi Buffon; Stephan Lichsteiner, Andrea Barzagli, Leonardo Bonucci, Giorgio Chiellini; Andrea Pirlo, Claudio Marchisio, Arturo Vidal; Simone Pepe, Alessandro Matri, Mirko Vucinic

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Lecce Vs. Catania, 2011 Serie A: Gli Elefanti Finally Pick Up Their First Away Win, 1-0

Pablo Barrientos, who has spent most of his professional footballing career in Argentina or Russia, proved his worth to Catania today after he came on in the 75th minute for Mariano Izco. The Argentine scored his first goal for the rossazzurri, and his first goal in Serie A -- and what a beautiful goal it was. Maxi Lopez, another late substitute from Vincenzo Montella, sent the ball through to Barrientos on the edge of the area, where he let fly with a screamer that settled into the top left-corner. It took 90 minutes for Catania to break down Lecce goalkeeper Massimiliano Benassi, but they finally have their first away win of the season.

The rest of the match, you ask? Well, Lecce decided to show off exactly why they remain in the relegation zone, forcing Mariano Andújar into just one save -- the rest of their shots went wide, or skewed into orbit, or quite possibly both. All in all, though, it was a fairly entertaining match, even though much of the action took place away from the goals.

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Udinese Vs. Roma, 2011 Serie A: Di Natale And Isla Give Udinese Late 2-0 Victory

Good lord -- can I have the first 80 minutes of Udinese - Roma back, please? It may have been labeled "An Italian match of chess" again and again by obnoxious Fox commentator Christian Miles, but it was more akin to watching paint dry or grass grow. It wasn't so much a battle of strategy between Francesco Guidolin and Luis Enrique as much as a cautionary tale of sloppy versus sloppier. In fact, it was the zebrette that were the most wasteful, misplacing passes and meeting the ball with too-heavy touches. But with Roma unable to answer two late goals with more than a few sky-high shots, the Friuli remains a fortress, and Udinese await the results of Saturday's Lazio - Juventus match.

One of the reasons this match was incredibly frustrating to watch was Luca Banti's over-reliance on the little whistle hanging 'round his neck. Greco kicks out at bianconeri ankles? Whistle. Toto trips over a blade of grass? Whistle. Ball comes too near goal? Whistle. If it hadn't been for an impressive Udinese display in the final ten minutes, I would have attempted to go back in time and re-obtain all the minutes wasted watching this pitiful play.

But in the 80th minute, Antonio Di Natale scored and all was well with the world. Udinese had a bit of luck on their side, however, as Simon Kjaer pulled up with a hamstring injury, allowing Toto to get behind the defense to grab the pass from Giampiero Pinzi. With the speed of Di Natale, though, and Roma's mistake in keeping him onside, it seemed nearly inevitable that once he started running, a goal would be his.

The second goal came in the 90th minute through the work of Pablo Armero. The Colombian was immense for Udinese tonight, charging up the left flank and muscling Roma off the ball. His speedy run allowed him to shake off Rodrigo Taddei, slotting the ball across the face of goal for an onrushing Mauricio Isla to knock in.

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Lazio Vs. Juventus, 2011 Serie A Week 12: First Plays Second In Reprise Of Calcio Golden Age

After dark periods, these two grandees of the Italian game are back at its summit. They face of on Saturday for the right to stay there.

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Udinese Vs. Roma, 2011 Serie A, Week 11: Preview, A Massive Match In The Fight For Europe

Udinese and Roma contend for a European place on Friday in Fruili

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