Serie A, Week 36: Juventus Draw, Milan Win To Keep Scudetto Race Alive

Just one point separates the two teams at the top, while Wednesday's results saw Lazio and Inter drop, leaving just Udinese and Napoli in third.

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Serie A, Week 36: Wednesday Ends With Juventus, Milan Separated By Just A Point

Well. I think I need to go lie down, after that bit of Wednesday night excitement...

AC Milan 2-0 Atalanta

Milan have moved to within a point of Juventus following this win over Atalanta. From the start, they were off and running, and it was only a matter of time before Kevin-Prince Boateng set up Sulley Muntari for the opening goal. But it took the news that Lecce had equalised against Juve to really perk things up. Andrea Consigli beat away a free kick from Zlatan Ibrahimović, but it fell to Robinho, and not even the Brazilian could miss from that distance.

Catania 0-1 Bologna

Sigh. Catania, you had so much potential.

Cesena 0-1 Udinese

Diego Fabbrini kicked things off for Udinese in the fourth minute, but the visitors still did their damnedest to try and drop points. It's not often you see a team competing against an already-relegated club go ahead and try to give the game away, but Udinese did just that when conceding a penalty to Adrian Mutu. But Mutu hit the bar and Udinese walked away with the win, putting them back in joint-third.

Fiorentina 2-2 Novara

Tempers were clearly running high in Florence tonight. Down 2-0 by the 30th minute, Delio Rossi pulled Adem Ljajić in favor of Rubén Olivera, just after he'd sent a header too high. Ljajić gave his coach a mocking thumbs up, and in response, Rossi threw a few punches at the midfielder. Seems normal. But hey, the Viola came back and drew, so maybe this is a spectacular new strategy by Rossi.

Genoa 2-1 Cagliari

It's hard to believe that one of the top scorers in Serie A is on Genoa, but he is, and Rodrigo Palacio bagged another against Cagliari. Genoa were so busy celebrating this possible redemption that they barely noticed when Lorenzo Ariaudo equalised two minutes later. And after those 13 minutes, nothing happened. Except, you know, Genoa winning a match. Give Boško Janković a raise.

Juventus 1-1 Lecce

Head over here for more information about Gigi Buffon's tremendous error.

Parma 3-1 Inter Milan

It may have seemed crazy when, after last weekend's results, Tommaso Ghirardi said that Parma have an outside chance of qualifying for the Europa League. But tonight's win over Inter is their fifth straight. The nerazzurri took the lead into halftime on a stunning goal from Wesley Sneijder, but in the space of three fateful minutes, it all fell apart for the visitors. Fernando Marqués scored off a through-ball from Sebastian Giovinco, and three minutes later, it was Gio himself doing the dirty work, giving Parma the lead. Just for fun, Giovinco set up Jonathan Biabiany late in the match to really make sure that Inter had suffered.

Lazio 1-1 Siena

In yet another battle for third place (are you losing count? I sure am) Lazio actually managed to score against Siena. How did they do it? Oh, yes, Antonio Candreva drew a penalty and Cristian Ledesma converted. Unfortunately for the Champions League chasers, Mattia Destro had already scored a header. That's down to fifth place for the former league leaders.


Juventus Vs. Lecce, 2012 Serie A: Fulltime, Gigi Buffon Blunder Gives Lecce A Point

For 85 minutes, it appeared as though the scudetto had already been awarded. Sure, AC Milan were leading against Atalanta, but Claudio Marchisio had given Juventus the early 1-0 lead over Lecce, so it was only a matter of time. On Sunday, the title would return home to Turin. And then...Andrea Bertolacci stepped in, and Lecce had a new hero in their substitute.

Marchisio's opener was nearly routine for this Juventus side. Of course, Andrea Pirlo was involved, sending in one of his perfect crosses. Marchisio was waiting in the area to head past Massimiliano Benassi, starting off his 200th professional match with a bang.

But then the Juve that had been so strong in the last few matches just seemed to fizzle out. Juan Cuadrado was sent off with a second yellow, but despite having 35 minutes left to play, the Old Lady just couldn't create anything. Alessandro Matri came on for Fabio Quagliarella, Alessandro Del Piero for Mirko Vucinic. Still, nothing.

And then the inconceivable happened. Gigi Buffon, so flawless, the rock of the Juve side, screwed up. Leonardo Bonucci passed the ball back to his keeper, but when Buffon went to return the pass, something went terribly wrong. A heavy touch by Italy's number one left plenty of room for Lecce to pounce, and the ball was rolled into the open goal before Buffon even understood what was happening.

Bertolacci's goal may not have rescued Lecce from relegation -- with Genoa's win, the salentini are four points from safety -- but it may have opened the door to a Milan challenge for the scudetto. Just a point now separates the two teams at the top.


AC Milan Vs. Atalanta, 2012 Serie A: Milan Lead 1-0 At Halftime Thanks To Sulley Muntari

Atalanta may have been in fine form recently, but as soon as the whistle blew at the San Siro, it was all AC Milan. You'd almost think the team were, I don't know, playing the game of their lives. Kevin-Prince Boateng and Zlatan Ibrahimovic took it in turns to torment Andrea Consigli, but the Atalanta keeper managed to parry away quite a few shots.

Then the news must have come through that Claudio Marchisio scored in Turin. Determined not to let Juventus run away with the scudetto just yet, KPB sent a cross into the area, where Sulley Muntari was waiting to slot it into the bottom left corner.

The visitors might not have had anything to play for, but they weren't ready to give in that easily. German Denis, Atalanta's top scorer with 16 thus far, tried a header at the other end, but Christian Abbiati scrambled to save before the ball found its way into the net.


Juventus Vs. Lecce, 2012 Serie A: Old Lady Lead Through Claudio Marchisio

The first half of this important match for Juventus didn't start off well. Barely five minutes into the game, Paolo De Ceglie, who fought so hard to win a spot in the defence, went up for a challenge and came down clutching his hamstring. He immediately signaled to the bench, with Martin Caceres coming on in his place.

But it wouldn't be long before Turin -- or at least, the bianconeri side of Turin -- was ecstatic once again. In the eighth minute, Claudio Marchisio put the Old Lady ahead with a header from an Andrea Pirlo cross. An excellent start to his 200th professional match.

Not content to let their fate rest on a 1-0 lead, Juventus immediately surged forward again, with Marchisio very nearly adding another minutes later. One of the best chances fell to Arturo Vidal. Marchisio turned two Lecce defenders inside out before sending the ball forward, where Vidal broke free, controlling the ball beautifully before sending his shot just inches wide.

Lecce might be playing to keep their spot in Serie A, but at the break, it's sure not looking like it.


Serie A, Week 36: Tuesday Wrap, Napoli Take Lead In 3rd Place Race

Napoli have put the pressure on their rivals for Italy's final Champions League spot, winning on Tuesday to take at least a temporary lead over Udinese, Inter Milan and Lazio. They also took a permanent lead over AS Roma, who played themselves out of the race for third on Tuesday.

Chievo Verona 0-0 Roma

Pretty, passing football is fantastic, but it's generally a good idea to have a Plan B. There was torrential rain in Verona on Tuesday, causing puddles to form on the pitch at the Stadio Marc'Antonio Bentegodi. That suited the direct, physical Flying Donkeys just fine as they earned a 0-0 draw to kill Roma's chances of qualifying for the Champions League. The Giallorossi have now failed to win in four straight matches.

Napoli 2-0 Palermo

It's been a bad season for Palermo, but Walter Mazzarri is probably unsympathetic to their plight today. Napoli opened the scoring with an Edinson Cavani penalty in the 16th minute, given to them after Milan Milanovic blocked a Goran Pandev cross with his hand. Marek Hamsik scored the second in the 35th minute with a nice bit of skill, taking a pass from Pandev off his chest before placing the ball past Emiliano Viviano. The second half was considerably less eventful.

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