Serie A: Week 25 Round-Up

The bottom three remains the same while AC Milan, Fiorentina and Cagliari all hit four respectively.


AC Milan showed no sign of complacency this weekend as they brushed Parma aside, beating The Crusaders 4-0 at the San Siro. Two early goals from Clarence Seedorf and Antonio Cassano gave Milan the lead at half-time, while Brazilian striker Robinho scored two in the space of three minutes in the second half to give The Rossoneri their 15th win of the season. Former-Manchester City striker Robinho has scored eight goals this campaign after his 18 million move from Eastlands.

Massimiliano Allegri’s side are now three points clear at the top of Serie A after Napoli beat Roma at the Stadio Olimpico. Two goals from in-form Edinson Cavani, who has scored twenty in the league so far this season, helped to keep the pressure on Milan, although one of his goals was rather controversial. After Ezequiel Lavezzi was brought down by Roma centre-back Juan, Cavani stepped up to take the penalty and, after the ball had hit both posts, the Uruguayan forward tapped in from a yard out. Roma ‘keeper Julio Sergio, though, was furious, arguing that, for Cavani to be able to connect with the rebound, another player had to touch the ball first. The assistant referee, however, deemed that the original shot from the penalty had actually crossed the line.
That result meant that Palermo and Udinese could pull away from Roma in their quests for Europa League spots. Palermo, though, were victim of a ferocious Fiorentina comeback, as The Viola came from behind twice to win 4-2 at the Stadio Renzo Barbera. Palermo had taken an early lead through Agentine Javier Pastore and, after Alberto Gilardino had levelled for Fiorentina, Antonio Nocerino put Delio Rossi’s side back in front just after half-time. But with twenty minutes to go, the fight back began. Michele Camporese equalised before an own goal from Cesare Bovo put Fiorentina in front for the first time in the game. Riccardo Montolivo then sealed the victory two minutes from the end, sending Siniša Mihajlović’s team 10th in the table.
That result meant that Udinese could leap above Palermo in to 5th place and, thanks to two goals from Antonio Di Natale, Francesco Guidolin now finds his side just one point below a Champions League spot. Di Natale scored his 15th and 16th goals either side of Gökhan İnler scoring his first of the season as Udinese beat Cesena 3-0 away from home.
Cesena haven’t won since 6th January (against Brescia) and it is that sort of form that has kept the Seahorses in the relegation zone. The only side below them, Bari, did mange to get a point at the weekend, drawing 0-0 with Genoa, who now sit 13th. Bortolo Mutti didn’t have a winning start to his reign as Bari manager, which isn’t a surprise considering that Bari have only won three games all season. Fellow relegation candidates Brescia also had a tough weekend, losing 2-0 to Lazio at home, with goals from Álvaro Rafael González and Libor Kozák sending the Biancocelesti 3rd in the table after Inter Milan put in a poor showing away at Juventus. A Alessandro Matri goal gave Luigi Del Neri’s side victory over Leonardo’s team; 1-0 the final score. Juventus are now 6th.
Perhaps the most surprising scoreline of the weekend was that of Cagliari beating Chievo 4-1. Cagliari had only scored twenty-eight goals all season and Chievo had conceded just twenty-three, so the fact that five goals were scored in this mid-table clash came as quite a shock. Goals from Daniele Conti, Michele Canini and Nene had given Cagliari a 3-0 lead at half-time and, when Nene scored his second of the match, the game was over as a contest with twenty minutes to go. Cyril Théréau did score a late goal but it was a mere consolation, as Cagliari gained ground on seventh placed Roma.
Another clash involving clubs close together in league positions, Catania and Lecce, also finished with five goals. Two late goals from Francesco Lodi meant that Catania overcame Lecce 3-2 in a relegation battle. Catania are just two points above the drop with Lecce two points below them. The game was a thrilling encounter with both sides going in front at points in the match. Matías Silvestre had given the home side the lead on the stroke of half-time but, after the break, Jeda and Gianni Munari scored within five minutes of each other to put Lecce in the driving seat. Lodi, though, gave Catania their sixth win of the season with two goals inside the last ten minutes to leave the Rossazzurri in 16th position, three points away from 13th.
Bologna, who sit in 14th currently, have a game in hand on Catania but they weren’t able to take advantage of some good recent form as they crashed to a 3-1 loss away at Sampdoria. Goals from Angelo Palombo, Daniele Gastaldello and Massimo Maccarone all came in the first fifteen minutes, and it wasn’t until the 65th minute that Bologna replied. Daniele Paponi’s strike was a mere consolation, though, as Sampdoria claimed just their seventh victory all season.
Fixtures: Game week 26 (Current league table)
Sat
19/02/11
Bologna
17 : 00
Palermo
Internazionale
19 : 45
Cagliari
Sun
20/02/11
Lecce
11 : 30
Juventus
Lazio
14 : 00
Bari
Udinese
14 : 00
Brescia
Parma
14 : 00
Cesena
Chievo
14 : 00
Milan
Genoa
14 : 00
Roma
Fiorentina
14 : 00
Sampdoria
Napoli
19 : 45
Catania

Cavani scores two as Napoli defeat Roma

Napoli keep the pressure on AC Milan as Roma are defeated at home in Serie A for the first time since April 2010.

(Picture from of Eurosport)
Cavani celebrates

Edinson Cavani continued his fine goalscoring form as the Uruguayan scored his 19th and 20th league goals of the current campaign to give Napoli victory over Roma.

In a top-of-the-table clash Napoli stifled most Roma of Roma’s play (they had the majority of possession but were limited to just six shots) and attacked with great power throughout the match, and it was of course the front three of Ezequiel Lavezzi, Marek Hamsik and Cavani who caused Roma problems all game.
A frantic first half produced few chances for either side, although Mirko Vucinic found himself one-on-one with Morgan De Sanctis with 15 minutes gone, only to see his shot comfortably saved by the Napoli ‘keeper.
The ‘Derby of the Sun’ inevitably saw some tasty instances, with Roma centre-back Marco Cassetti clashing with Napoli’s Ezequiel Lavezzi in an off-the-ball incident on the halfway line, with both players booked for the confrontation. Former-Liverpool defender Andrea Dossena then seemed to be struck in the face by Marek Hamsik near the touchline as things began to get heated inside the Stadio Olimpico.
Roma may have slightly shaded the first half possession but it was Napoli who had the most efforts on goal, with top goalscorer Cavani firing wide from 30 yards and Christian Maggio curling a shot over the bar from just outside the area. Just minutes before Cavani’s effort, the Uruguayan forward came just centre-metres away from giving Walter Mazzarri’s side the lead after a low cross just eluded the toe of the 23-year-old on loan from Palermo.
Cavani, though, didn’t have to wait too long after half-time to add to his campaign tally as Lavezzi was brought down by Juan inside the area. The Brazilian centre-back was duly booked and Cavani converted his second penalty in the league this season. The goal caused great controversy, though, as Cavani tapped in from a yard out after hitting both posts. Roma ‘keeper Julio Sergio argued furiously that, because Cavani had touched the ball before any other player, the goal should not have counted. The referee, with the help of his assistant, seemed to rule that the original penalty had in fact crossed the line.
Another big refereeing decision was made just after the hour mark, with Mauro Bergonzi ruling Cumilo Zuniga to be offside after his pass was deflected into the net.
Roma’s flat 4-4-2 was simply not working against the cohesive 3-4-3 system that Napoli have utilised so well this season, and Claudio Ranieri waited until the 75th minute to bring Francesco Totti on for Vucinic. The game, however, could have been all over as Roma’s talisman prepared to come on as Lavezzi found himself onside with only the ‘keeper to beat, 20 yards from goal. The Argentine striker couldn’t beat Sergio, but the defensive frailties of Roma were again clear for all to see.
Cavani doubled Napoli’s lead with seven minutes to go, finishing well after Paolo Cannavaro put in a perfect cross from the right-wing as the defender stormed forward from the back. The three Napoli defenders – Hugo Campagnaro, Salvatore Aronica and Cannavaro – were again superb all evening as Napoli secured their 9th clean sheet in 11 games.
Napoli now lie three points behind leaders AC Milan (who thrashed Parma 4-0 at home earlier today), with Inter Milan now eight points off the top with two games in hand. Leonardo’s side face Juventus tomorrow, and The Old Lady will be glad to see Roma defeated at home as Luigi Delneri’s side could now go ahead of them and leap into 5th place.