19 settembre 2006

Roma and Palermo share top spot, AC Milan chip away at deficit
by Stefano Blin
September 17, 2006

ROME (AFP) - Roma and Palermo share top spot in Italy's Serie A after they both made it two wins in as many matches.

Title hopefuls Roma beat Siena 3-1, while Sicilian side Palermo defeated Lazio 2-1 in Rome where David Di Michele struck twice for the visitors.

AC Milan also chalked up their second consecutive win - a 2-0 victory away to Parma - to chip further away at the eight-point penalty given to them for their part in the Italian match-fixing scandal.

Messina came close to making it a three-way tie for first place, but they conceded a late equaliser in a 1-1 draw at Ascoli where Ascoli keeper Gianluca Pagliuca set a new record for goalkeeping appearances in the top division.

Making his 570th appearance, the 39-year-old former Italy international overtook the previous record of 569 held by the legendary Dino Zoff.

Roma's passionate fans always have high expectations of their team, but coach Luciano Spalletti refused to get carried away with the club's strong start.

"We will try to do our best, but here you always have to keep your feet on the ground," he said.

"Paradoxically it can be difficult in this environment when the team is winning. But then again, it's tougher when the team is losing."

Fiorentina, facing a mammoth task to stay up after being handed a 19-point penalty for match-fixing, lost the Tuscany derby, going down 1-0 at Livorno. Cristiano Lucarelli headed the only goal 11 minutes into the second-half.

Goals from Antonio Di Natale and Brazilian Felipe gave Udinese a convincing 2-0 home win over Torino, while the battle of the newly-promoted clubs between Catania and Atalanta ended goalless. Chievo drew 1-1 at Empoli.

Roma's win at Siena never looked in doubt after the home side had Ezio Brevi sent off in the 27th minute, and the 2001 champions made their numerical supremacy count in a one-sided second half.

Brazilian Rodrigo Taddei prodded home from close range shortly after half time and Chilean playmaker David Pizarro made it 2-0, sliding home Taddei's cross in the 70th minute.

Mario Frick pulled one back three minutes from time with a fluky effort that bounced off his body, but a stoppage-time goal from Stefano Okaka restored Roma's two-goal cushion.

The timing of Roma's win was perfect given the 1-1 draw for championship rivals Inter Milan on Saturday, coupled with the fact that they face Inter in the capital on Wednesday.

Already reeling from an 11-point penalty for match-fixing, Lazio suffered another devastating blow with their second defeat in a row.

The excellent Di Michele did the damage with two superb and almost identical lobbed goals, before Tommaso Rocchi reduced the deficit for the home side.

Clarence Seedorf's curling free-kick from outside the box gave AC Milan a first-half lead at Parma and Kaka's late penalty - awarded after he was brought down by keeper Alfonso De Lucia - wrapped up the three points.

Champions Inter, awarded last season's title after the match-fixing furore, salvaged a point at home to Sampdoria on Saturday.

Francesco Flachi put the visitors ahead with a penalty shortly after half time, before an own goal from Massimo Bonanni levelled the score.

In Saturday's early match, Rolando Bianchi scored a stoppage-time winner to give Reggina, docked 15 points for their match-fixing involvement, a 2-1 home win against Cagliari.


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