Serie A, Week 23: Napoli Cruise, But Roma Are Shocked By Siena

After slip-ups by Inter Milan and Udinese over the weekend, Napoli and Roma can get themselves back into the race for Champions League with wins on Monday.

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Siena Vs. AS Roma, 2012 Serie A: Siena Climb Closer To Safety With 1-0 Win

If Siena manages to avoid relegation this season they are going to look at their run to begin February as the reason why. They entered the month squarely in the relegation race with matches against Juventus and AS Roma looming, but they managed a draw in Turin and then on Monday, a 1-0 win against AS Roma. Sandwiched in between was a Coppa win against Napoli and Siena are flying high. Now they find themselves five points clear of the drop zone and look a good bet to stay in the top division for next season.

If anyone watching the match was only glancing up every once in a while, they could have been misled to believe that Roma were the far superior team. They had almost all of the possession and would have been on the ball anytime a glancer looked up, but the possession was largely useless. Roma did nothing with the ball except knock it around the midfield and many of the best chances were Siena's as they asked Maarten Stekelenburg to make a few fine saves.

Siena finally got their winner just after the interval though with some help from Simon Kjaer. The Roma defender came on as a halftime substitute and six minutes later brought down Mattia Daestro in the box to give away a penalty. Stekelenburg guessed the right way on the penalty, but Emanuele Calaio's shot was too good and Siena had themselves a winning goal that might prove to be the key to keeping them from relegation.

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Napoli Vs. Chievo, 2012 Serie A: Napoli Cruise Past Flying Donkeys

Napoli have been struggling all season and haven't really had the best of times against Chievo Verona anyway, so the match between the two sides at the Stadio San Paolo looked like it could be an invitation for yet another upset. That most emphatically did not happen - Walter Mazzarri rested just Christian Maggio from his strongest starting eleven, and the hosts ensured the match was over by the end of the first half.

Miguel Britos got things started when he nodded in an Ezequiel Lavezzi corner kick in the fifteenth minute to make it 1-0, and seven minutes before the break Napoli doubled their advantage after a fine series of passes ended up with Edinson Cavani being brought down in the penalty box by Chievo goalkeeper Stefano Sorrentino. The Uruguay striker stepped up and dusted himself off before netting the spot kick, giving the hosts a 2-0 lead that the visitors would never seriously threaten.

So that's Napoli's winless streak over, and the only real worry came when Eduardo Vargas limped off the pitch in injury time with an apparent knee injury. It didn't look to serious, so hopefully it's not enough to take the gloss off a good performance and great result for the Partenopei.

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Mauricio Isla, Antonio Di Natale Injuries Rock Udinese

Udinese may be without two of their top players for some time following their 2-1 defeat at home against Milan - Antonio di Natale departed with a fractured foot and Mauricio Isla has knee ligament damage.

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Serie A Sunday: Inter Fall To Novara, Catania Conquer Genoa

Atalanta 0-0 Lecce

Some people were on the pitch.

Catania 4-0 Genoa

The game started wonderfully for the hosts, with Catania attacking right from the start and Gonzalo Bergessio getting a shot on target inside the first minute. After just eight minutes, Valter Birsa brought down Alejandro Gomez inside the area. Francesco Lodi stepped up to the spot, sending his shot past a diving Sebastien Frey and into the bottom right corner. The rossazzurri started the second half just as brilliantly. Marco Motta met Lodi's cross with a header toward goal, and while the Genoa defense was attempting to mop up that mess, the ball fell to Pablo Barrientos, who easily looped it into the back of the net. Just three minutes later, Genoa were caught on the break, Bergessio flying down the pitch before sending it back to Barrientos for his second. Then it was Bergessio's turn, getting in behind the hapless Genoa defense to score his own, Catania's fourth.

Inter Milan 0-1 Novara

Well. This was unexpected. Lowly Novara, who started the day at the very bottom of the Serie A table, managed to take all three points from Inter at the San Siro. Andrea Caracciolo scored the only goal of the match. Lucio managed to hit the woodwork with a header, only for Novara to hit on the counter. Jeda sent the ball in for Caracciolo to strike, the ball curling in around Julio Cesar. The nerazzurri did their best to threaten in the end, but Samir Ujkani came up with a couple good saves, particularly to deny Giampaolo Pazzini.

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Cagliari Vs. Palermo, 2012 Serie A: Rossoblu Go Top Half With Win

Cagliari are in the top half of the Serie A table following their 2-1 victory over Palermo on Saturday, and they're now just one point behind their Saturday opponents. Fabrizio Miccoli, who has been in stunning form and integral to Palermo's last two results, was unable to play for the Rosanero and was sorely missed. With him out and Abel Hernandez on the bench, they lacked pace and struggled to break down the Cagliari defense.

The first half was relatively uneventful, with Cagliari perhaps the better side but slightly cautious. They got more ambitious in the second half and eventually created a fantastic goal in the 56th minute. Victor Ibarbo drifted wide to the right flank and put in a beautiful ball across the box, which Mauricio Pinilla got to and finished at the back post to give his side the lead.

Daniele Dessena would add a second goal in the 81st mintue, following a scramble on a set piece and some poor goalkeeping by Emiliano Viviano. Cagliari's Gabriele Perico committed a handball in the box shortly afterwards, giving Palermo a way back into the game. Hernandez, who had come on as a substitute, converted the penalty but Palermo would not find a second goal. They pushed bodies forward in the final 10 minutes and got plenty of balls into the box, but never forced a big save out of Michael Agazzi. Andrea Mantovani had the best chance, but missed an absolute sitter in stoppage time after Josep Ilicic played him in with a great pass.

It was by no means a pretty game and was extremely physical, as Rossoblu midfield star Radja Nainggolan imposed himself on the match. Cagliari were able to play their style from start to finish, and Miccoli's absence was felt throughout.

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Udinese Vs. AC Milan, 2012 Serie A: Milan Come Back To Win

Udinese suffered their first home loss of the Serie A season after a stirring come-from-behind win saw AC Milan notch all three points despite being thoroughly outplayed for all but the final twenty minutes. Antonio di Natale ran riot in the first half, scoring a deflected goal 19 minutes in that left Marco Amelia totally helpless, and it looked as though the hosts would simply brush aside the challenge of the defending champions.

Then things started going horribly wrong for Udinese. Mauricio Isla suffered a horrible-looking knee injury on the hour mark, and di Natale was forced off shortly thereafter. Milan made the most of the huge holes that appeared in an imbalanced Udinese side, and hard work by substitute Maxi Lopez saw the Scudetto holders mount a comeback. Lopez was able to draw his team level immediately following the di Natale substitution, and better was to come after a fantastic buildup saw Stephan El Shaarawy sweep home the winner five minutes from time. The hosts attempted to recover, attempting to maintain their unbeaten record in the Stadio Friuli this season, but Milan's defence held firm and the visitors earned a hugely important three points.

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Udinese Vs. AC Milan, 2012 Serie A Week 23: Rossoneri Running Out Of Forward Players

Udinese could get themselves into the Scudetto race if they're able to defeat AC Milan on Saturday.

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