NAPLES, ITALY - JANUARY 16: Robert Acquafresca of Bologna celebrates after scoring the opening goal during the Serie A match between SSC Napoli and Bologna FC at Stadio San Paolo on January 16, 2012 in Naples, Italy. (Photo by Giuseppe Bellini/Getty Images)

Serie A, Week 18: Bologna Hold Napoli To Draw

The Partenopei have fallen further behind their rivals in the race to finish in Champions League places, dropping points in a 1-1 draw with Bologna in Naples

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Napoli Vs. Bologna, 2012 Serie A: Azzurri Drop Two Points In Draw

Napoli are now seven points behind third place, and their qualification for UEFA Champions League continues to get more difficult. In a match where three points were expected, Napoli were far from their best against bottom-half Bologna, conceding an early goal and requiring some luck just to equalize. The Azzurri were on top for almost the entire match, but failed to convert their chances and did very little with their possession in a 1-1 draw.

Robert Acquafresca scored the opener for Bologna in the 14th minute after a comedy of errors from the Napoli defense. Everyone fell asleep at the back on a Nico Pulzetti through ball that played Acquafresca one-on-one with Morgan De Sanctis. He finished calmly, putting his team up 1-0. They would take their lead into halftime.

Frustrated with his team, Walter Mazzarri brought on Juan Zuñiga for Hugo Campagnaro -- who had a poor game -- in the 56th minute. Napoli looked better with Zuñiga in the team, but was still very obviously missing the injured Ezequiel Lavezzi. Luckily for them, they would be bailed out.

On a very weak shot from outside of the box that was headed nowhere, Bologna's Diego Perez handled the ball inside of the penalty area and the referee pointed to the spot. Edinson Cavani stepped up and converted the penalty in the 71st minute, but that would be Napoli's only goal in a disappointing draw.


AC Milan Vs. Inter Milan, 2012 Serie A: Inter Earn Surprise Win

A surprise twist from the Derby Della Madonnina - Inter Milan have just handed second place AC Milan their first home league loss in more than a year. For a long while it looked as though Milan were going to have the better of things - they had (by far) the majority of possession and had a big edge in the shot count too, but the hosts were unimaginative and wasteful in front of goal while Inter looked ready to seize whichever opportunities appeared.

Inter very nearly took the lead in a messy first ten minutes when Thiago Motta nodded a Maicon free kick past Christian Abbiati and into the back of the net only for the goal to be flagged off - a perfectly executed offside trap had caught him and the linesman had spotted it. Much of the first half featured two teams struggling to impress, but the match burst to life just before halftime when a series of chances cropped up at both ends of the pitch, capped by Mark van Bommel's 20-yard effort cannoning back off Julio Cesar's crossbar.

The game needed a goal and it got one shortly after the break when Diego Milito took advantage of Ignazio Abate's inability to cut out a low pass from Javier Zanetti, and the striker tore into the box, opened up his body and finished sweetly at the far post. Milan had no answer, and Inter looked the more threatening for the remainder of the match. It was a sad display by Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Alexandre Pato up front, and the losers will be desperately disappointed that they failed to put together a single coherent attack after going behind - only a few goalmouth scrambles gave Milan any hope that they'd equalise.

Inter, for their part, saw out the game superbly, and were well deserving of the win after a period in the first half where they looked like they'd never manage to do much to a well-marshalled Milan defence. This is a major boon to their hopes of retaining their Champions League place, and a big blow to the Scudetto holders to boot, who could have gone ahead of league leaders Juventus with a win. In other words, it's been a pretty good day for the Nerazzuri.


AC Milan Vs. Inter Milan, 2012 Serie A: Diego Milito Gives Inter Lead

The deadlock has finally been broken at the San Siro, and it's Inter Milan who have the lead. Diego Milito's the man to give the visitors the advantage. Although it's AC Milan who've been generally on top, a defensive mistake by Ignazio Abate allowed Milito to latch onto a crossfield pass from Javier Zanetti, dance into the penalty area and slip a shot straight into the far corner. Poor Christian Abiati had no chance whatsoever - it really was a lovely finish.

So now the game has to open up and Milan will have to push much harder for a goal. That's going to make it much easier for Inter to get in behind them, which means we could well see them run up the score against their rivals. That said, it's not out of the question that Milan come back into the match, although visitors are happily on top at present.


AC Milan Vs. Inter Milan, 2012 Serie A: 0-0 At Halftime

It's halftime at the San Siro and we're all square at 0-0 after an interesting - although not often entertaining - first half between Milan and Inter. With both teams presumably rather keen on taking all three points from the Derby Della Madonnina, it's a bit of a shock that things have been so tepid on front of both goals. For most of the first half, the game was played out very slowly, with just a handful of chances at both ends. Milan were generally controlling possession while Inter just tried to hit their erstwhile hosts on the break (that said, Thiago Motta did have a goal disallowed for offside in the very early going).

Things changed in the final ten minutes as Inter opened things up, and both goals were threatened in a frenetic finale to the half that culminated in a long-range shot by Mark van Bommel rattling Julio Cesar's crossbar. At some point, the deadlock will have to be broken, and things will get very entertaining when one of these sides is forced to actually chase the game. Should be a fun second half... we hope.


Milan Vs. Inter, 2012 Serie A: Lineups

A pair of midfield diamonds meet at the San Siro as Milan host Inter in a battle of second vs. fifth. Both teams could do with three points here but it's the defending champions who'll be pushing hardest for the win - victory today would see them overtake unbeaten Juventus for the top spot. If Milan are to get that win they want, they'll have to get a strong shift from their strikers. Inter have a good defence and are on a great run of form right now, so they're not going to be an easy nut to crack by any means.

AC Milan lineup (4-4-2 diamond): Christian Abbiati; Gianluca Zambrotta, Thiago Silva, Alessandro Nesta, Ignazio Abate; Mark van Bommel, Kevin-Prince Boateng, Antonio Nocerino, Urby Emanuelson; Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Alexandre Pato.

Substitutes from: Marco Amelia, Philippe Mexes, Luca Antonini, Massimo Ambrosini, Clarence Seedorf, Robinho, Filippo Inzaghi.

Inter Milan lineup (4-4-2 diamond): Julio Cesar; Javier Zanetti, Walter Samuel, Lucio, Maicon; Esteban Cambiasso, Thiago Motto, Yuto Nagatomo, Ricardo Alvarez; Diego Milito, Giampaulo Pazzini.

Substitutes from: Luca Castellazzi, Antonio Ranocchia, Cristian Chivu, Marco Davide Faraoni, Joel Obi, Wesley Sneijder, Diego Forlan.


AC Milan Vs. Inter, 2012 Serie A, Week 18: Surging Inter Looks to Close the Gap on AC Milan

Sunday night in Italy brings the Derby della Madonnina, with Milan playing "host" to rivals Inter. Will the Rossoneri maintain their place at the top of the table?


Catania Vs. Roma, 2012 Serie A: Match Suspended Due To Waterlogged Pitch, But Fun First Half Nevertheless

Catania - AS Roma has been suspended with 24 minutes remaining, as rain continues to gush down in eastern Sicily. The score stays at 1-1 until the final minutes are replayed, which, from the sound of it, will be either February 8 or 15.

The first half was a game of missed chances, particularly by the home side. Pablo Barrientos put his header wide, but it was Gonzalo Bergessio who really should have scored. Juan's slip on the water-logged pitch left the Catania striker clear in the box, but Simon Kjær managed a terrific goal-line clearance. On the other end, Roma had a legitimate shout for a penalty after Aleandro Rosi was dragged down in the box, but Paolo Tagliavento barely batted an eye.

Catania broke the deadlock minutes later, when Nicola Legrottaglie got his head on the end of a Francesco Lodi free kick. The ball slid off his hair and past a flat-footed Maarten Stekelenburg to give the rossazzurri a fleeting lead. Roma equalized in much the same manner, with Daniele De Rossi heading in a Francesco Totti corner.

For the final fifteen minutes of the first half, Catania rued chance after chance. Tagliavento very nearly assisted on a goal for the home side, but Roma were having none of that sort of help from the referee. Barrientos, Bergessio and Alejandro Gomez kept combining well, but just couldn't hit the high notes, with Bergessio hesitating just a second too long, arriving just an instant too late.

While rain seemed fun in the first half, creating a rather festive, fluid atmosphere, in the second it started to feel rather ominous. The ball stopped moving, the action seemed to be happening in slow-motion, and players kept skidding along the soggy pitch, picking up wedgies and who knows what other sorts of injuries. Tagliavento really had no choice but to call off the match, but you have to wonder how fair, exactly, will a 24 minute replay be -- to either side?


Catania Vs. Roma, 2012 Serie A, Week 18: Elephants Need To Rebound While Giallorossi Look To Keep Up Form

Catania looks to bounce back from a bad week against a Roma side that is in excellent form

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