Football: Milan And Juve Keep Serie A Dreams Alive
Posted December 8, 2008on:
ROME : AC Milan and Juventus kept their title hopes alive ahead of next week’s crunch clash between the pair by both winning on Sunday and cutting the gap to leaders Inter Milan back to six points.
Inter’s 3-0 victory at Lazio on Saturday night had heaped pressure on their nearest two challengers and while both toiled for long periods, they eventually eked out important wins, Milan succeeding 1-0 at home to Catania and Juve triumphing 2-1 at Lecce.
Milan began their match against the Sicilians in the middle of a paralysing injury crisis.
With players such as Ronaldinho, Andrea Pirlo, Marco Borriello, Massimo Ambrosini and Alessandro Nesta all on the treatment table a patch-work Milan took to the field at the San Siro.
The two teams played out an entertaining if scoreless first half with the recalled Andrei Shevchenko sending a stooping header just over the bar early on.
Just before the quarter hour mark Giuseppe Mascara hit the post for the visitors with a terrific shot from outside the area that beat Christian Abbiati in the Milan goal.
And moments later the woodwork was struck up the other end as Albano Bizarri tipped Kaka’s curling effort onto the post.
Milan were enjoying the better of the chances and Shevchenko should have done better when played in by Kaka but clearly lacking in confidence he tried to play the ball back to the Brazilian rather than shooting and his pass was deflected away for a corner.
Teenage Brazilian forward Pato was next to try his luck but Bizarri spectacularly tipped his thunderous free-kick over the bar on 64 minutes.
However, from the resulting corner Milan took the lead with Kaka’s header from Pato’s dead ball flicking off Lorenzo Stovini’s toe to deceive Bizarri.
Chances kept coming thick and fast after that as the game opened up but Mascara came closest to scoring with a diving header that Abbiati did brilliantly to turn around the post for a corner.
In Lecce Juve were hamstrung by the absence of evergreen forward Alessandro Del Piero but it was his understudy who on 57 minutes lit up what had until then been a dull game, and in decidedly Del Piero-esque fashion.
Reported West Ham target Sebastian Giovinco stepped up 12 minutes into the second period to smash a wonderful free-kick into the top corner that required a second look to be sure it wasn’t Del Piero himself who had taken it.
That looked like it would be enough to earn Juve the three points but Lecce piled on the pressure and deservedly equalised.
Jose Ignacio Castillo should have done so 10 minutes from time but somehow directed a stooping header from inside the six yard box over the bar.
But Daniele Cacia steered home a shinned left-foot volley three minutes later to seemingly earn the southerners a share of the spoils.
However Juve kept fighting and Brazilian Amauri headed home a Paolo De Ceglie cross from close range in the last minute to give the visitors a vital three points.
Napoli remained fourth with a 2-0 home win over Siena while Fiorentina moved up to fifth with a 4-1 win at Torino.
Veteran Christian Vieri came off the bench to score his first goal of the season for Atalanta as they inflicted a fifth straight defeat on Udinese by a 3-0 scoreline.
– AFP /ls
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