Week 24: Different Tales Of Milan Clubs

Week 24 in Serie A saw both Milan clubs grabbing the headlines but for AC Milan, it was due to a wrong reason. Despite being unbeaten in their last seven league matches, the leaders haven't looked convincing, and four of those outings have ended in draws. Inter Milan looked as the best bet to retain their scudetto after crushing Roma, 5-3.

Udinese 2-0 Sampdoria

Sampdoria fall to 14th with their 2-0 loss to Udinese, leaving Serie A fans to wonder if there's any way Samp can pull themselves out of this mess. Since beating Roma 2-1 in January, Sampdoria have gone five straight matches without a goal, losing four of them. Udinese, meanwhile, were held to a 1-1 draw by Bologna midweek, but the return of Alexis Sanchez bolstered the Friulani. Sanchez scored the first goal in the 18th minute before setting up Antonio Di Natale for the second. Toto's goal gave him 100 in Serie A, all of them in an Udinese kit. With their captain's century, a seven-match unbeaten run, and a current sixth place slot, Udinese fans had quite a bit to celebrate on Saturday.

Cagliari 1-3 Juventus

Juventus fans also have something to celebrate: the Old Lady's 3-1 win over Cagliari is only their second in eight matches, but the real joy for Juventus fans is the fact that the team finally looked a decent side, for the first time in 2011. Alessandro Matri, picked up during the transfer window, bagged a brace against his former club, while Luca Toni also grabbed his first in the Bianconeri stripes, making him the second player on Saturday to score 100 goals in Serie A. Luigi Delneri's decision to switch from a 4-4-2 to a 4-3-1-2 sent Cagliari into a tizzy, leaving them unable to cope with Matri, Toni and Alessandro Del Piero. More of that and Juventus might lift themselves back into the European positions.

Bologna 1-0 Catania

The early match on Sunday wasn't exactly a thrill a minute. Considering the fact that Catania defender Pablo Alvarez was sent off in the 22nd minute after picking up a second yellow, there really should have been more action in this one. Daniele Portanova scored the only goal in the 41st minute, with Bologna requiring a free kick to even reach the 1-0 score.

Brescia 2-0 Bari

The pain continues for Bari, who are almost certain to be relegated after a 2-0 loss to fellow relegation-zone fighters Brescia. A converted penalty from Alessandro Diamanti opened the scoring, with substitute Andrea Caracciolo topping off the score in stoppage time. Bari have now lost six in a row and are seven adrift from Cesena, who sit in 19th.

Parma 1-1 Fiorentina

Juventus fans breathed a sigh of relief when they sent failed striker Amauri away to Parma, but the Brazilian grabbed the opener today against Fiorentina. One was not enough to take all three points and save manager Pasquale Marino from the wrath of the home support, however. Shortly after the restart, Massimo Gobbi brought down Michele Camporese in the area. Gaetano D'Agostino converted the penalty to give the Viola the draw.

Lazio 1-1 Chievo Verona

Surprise, surprise, Lazio are slipping down the table, now seven behind Milan in fourth place. Hernanes put the home side ahead in stoppage time of the first half, but the Biancocelesti failed to capitalize on their second half chances. Their mistakes proved fatal when Bostjan Cesar brought the Flying Donkeys level in the 64th, scoring off a corner that Lazio claimed should have been a goal kick to their side.

Lecce 2-4 Palermo

Palermo are set for Europe and they're not going to let a tiny little side like Lecce stand in their way. Despite trailing twice, the visitors fought back to take all three points and fifth in Serie A. Lecce got things started in style (well, ok, with a questionable goal that may have been offside), through a goal by Guillermo Giacomazzi. Fabrizio Miccoli brought things level just before the break with a fantastic, curving free kick, but seeing as Miccoli is from Lecce, he looked torn as the ball found the back of the net, and did not reappear for the second half. The Salentini pulled ahead again with a goal by Jeda, but after that it was the all-Palermo all the time show, with Javier Pastore, Abel Hernández and Josip Iličić all scoring in the space of six minutes. Miccoli is likely still crying in the dressing room.

Napoli 2-0 Cesena

A poor result for Napoli? Not when you consider that Christian Maggio had a goal ignored, despite the fact that it was clearly over the line when Cesena goalkeeper Francesco Antonioli grabbed the ball. Add to that the fact that José Sosa scored on his first touch of the game to mark the re-emergence of "Zona Napoli," and it's time for people to stop believing Napoli's presence in second place is little more than a fluke. Despite fielding a starting XI that included five players that typically begin the game on the bench, leading to more than a few misplaced passes, Napoli's solid win shows they deserve their Champions League position.

Genoa 1-1 AC Milan

As the weeks tick by, it's getting harder and harder to believe that Milan can't be unseated from the top of Serie A. Sure, the Rossoneri haven't lost in seven matches, but they have also stumbled against Genoa, Lazio, Lecce and Udinese. Milan took the lead through a goal by Pato, but it was really the work of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, whose brilliant assist gave Pato little to do but tap the ball in. Genoa's goal was much more lucky, with a deflection falling to the feet of Antonio Floro Flores, allowing the striker to slot the ball into the back of the net. Milan may feel a bit hard done by, but the top teams are meant to be able to shut down those toward the bottom, and the leaders will need to step up their game if they want to engrave their names on the scudetto.

Inter Milan 5-3 Roma

Despite ten-man Roma's late-game rally, Esteban Cambiasso sealed Inter's win with his 90th minute shot. This match had eight goals, seven goalscorers, and one hugely significant red card. While Roma are now almost certainly out of the scudetto race, Inter have pulled within five points of AC Milan, and still have a game in hand.

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