Italian Serie A Roundup, Apr. 23
Serie A leader AC Milan left it late to grab a 1-0 win over Brescia when Robinho scored eight minutes from time on Saturday.
The Brazilian linked with fellow striker Antonio Cassano to score his 12th goal of the season.
The result left Milan still eight points clear of Inter Milan, with Napoli a further point behind in third, with four matches left.
Inter beat Lazio 2-1, despite having goalkeeper Julio Cesar sent off, while Napoli slumped to a 2-1 loss to Palermo.
At the bottom of the table, Bari became the first team to be relegated to Serie B when it lost 1-0 to Sampdoria.
Alessandro Del Piero scored twice for Juventus in the first half against Catania, but it wasn’t enough to stop Catania earning a share of the points after Alejandro Gomez and Francesco Lodi hit back after halftime for a 2-2 draw.
Also, it was: Bologna 0, Cesena 2; Cagliari 1, Fiorentina 2; Genoa 4, Lecce 2; and Udinese 0, Parma 2.
Cassano, Robinho and Clarence Seedorf missed chances for Milan before Brescia’s Eder made Christian Abbiati work hard to keep out his shot in the 37th.
Cassano continued to waste chances and he blazed Kevin Prince Boateng’s cross over the bar four minutes before halftime. A minute later Robinho shot wide from close range.
In the second period, Brescia’s Davide Baiocco brushed the top of the crossbar with a powerful shot. Alessandro Diamanti then caused problems for Abbiati with a free kick that came back off the bar.
Milan scored when Cassano held up a long clearance and passed to Robinho, who shot low under Michele Arcari.
There was still time for one more Brescia chance, but again Abbiati denied Eder with an acrobatic save.
"The guys are very tired, but they did very well to get the three points tonight," Milan coach Massimo Allegri said. "I have to pay particular compliments to Abbiati, who has often been the difference for us this season.
"I’m very pleased with our defense which gave little space to Brescia’s attackers. Cassano had a great game. He made some errors, but it was him who set up the goal."
Inter goalkeeper Cesar was sent off when he brought down Zarate in a one-on-one midway through the first half. Reserve goalkeeper Luca Castelazzi went on for Diego Milito and his first job was to pick the ball out of the net after Zarate scored from the penalty spot.
Zarate continued to cause problems for Inter’s defense with his pace and Javier Zanetti had to react quickly to block his shot in the 33rd.
Inter was level in the 40th when Wesley Sneijder whipped a free kick over Lazio’s wall. Samuel Eto’o then gave the defending champion the lead in the 53rd, when he linked with Zanetti to score on the counterattack.
Lazio kept attacking and Zarate fired a volley into the side netting, while at the other end Lazio goalkeeper Fernando Muslera had to react quickly to keep out Maicon’s curling shot.
"We have had some heavy losses recently and the players reacted to them today as you would want," Inter coach Leonardo said. "We were down to 10 men and just conceded a penalty, but the effort and the sacrifice the players made was fantastic."
Lazio also finished the game with 10 men after captain Stefano Mauri received a straight red card for tripping Yuto Nagatomo in the 66th.
"Considering we were ahead against Inter, which had 10 men, we should have handled the situation better," Lazio coach Edy Reja said. "We had good chances, but we couldn’t take them."
Napoli took the lead in the second minute when Mattia Cassani handled Andrea Dossena’s cross. Edinson Cavani missed a penalty kick in the previous round of matches but this time he sent Palermo ‘keeper Salvatore Sirigu the wrong way and scored.
Federico Balzaretti drew Palermo level in spectacular fashion, firing in Cassani’s cross with a low half volley.
Just before the break a slick move between Javier Pastore and Giulio Migliaccio finished with Antonio Nocerino scoring. However, referee Antonio Damato had already blown for a penalty, leading Palermo coach Delio Rossi to be sent off for excessive protests.
"I was sent off for trying to talk to Pastore," Rossi said. "I wasn’t arguing with the referee or his assistant."
It made no difference as Bovo dispatched the penalty for a halftime lead.
"We deserved to draw, but we weren’t able to and that’s the way it goes," Napoli coach Walter Mazzarri said. "Nonetheless we have had an exceptional season.
"We saw how good Palermo is today and the fact that we are 15 points ahead of such a team shows what a great season Napoli has been having."