Serie A is back after the international break. The Azzurri had two games, but played precious little football between them. Italy were stifled by Nigel Worthington’s Norn Iron before Serbian hooligans brought more misery to the city of Genoa than Gian Piero Gasperini’s out of form Rossoblu. But first…
Some guys have it all, don’t they? One Javier Matías Pastore is such a guy. Aside from being Palermo‘s talismanic genius and one of the most sought after talents in world football, the 21 year-old Argentine is a lovely fellow to boot.
Having produced yet another moment of inspiration in Palermo’s 4-1 demolition of Bologna, Pastore revealed a t-shirt dedicated to the mothers of Argentina.
Bless him. The celebration, which followed a thunderous strike from outside the penalty area, marked Argentina’s Mother’s Day.
Pastore was not the only Rosanero player to score a terrific goal at the Stadio Barbera on Sunday. Slovenian international, Josip Ilicic, powered a shot over Emiliano Viviano from 25 yards to double Palermo’s advantage in the 24th minute. More goals came for the Sicilians after half-time courtesy of Mauricio Ferreira Pinilla and Armin Bacinovic.
AC Milan moved to the top of the table after beating Chievo 3-1 at the San Siro. Milan took the lead early on when Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s cross was volleyed home by Pato. The Brazilian international continued his fine form from the recent international friendlies as he secured a first half brace for the Rossoneri. Chievo found themselves back in the game after the restart. Ibrahimovic’s attempt at a clearing header found its way past Christian Abbiati.
Ronaldinho, played in an unfamiliar trequartista role, wreaked havoc on the Flying Donkeys. The former Barcelona maestro played his compatriot, Robinho, through on goal in stoppage time. Milan’s latest acquisition finished coolly to round off a comfortable victory.
Milan’s rivals Internazionale did not have as leisurely a victory as the Rossoneri. Sunday’s early kickoff was marred by racist chanting from sections of the Cagliari crowd. The repulsive outpouring from the Curva Nord forced the referee to stop the match in the opening minutes. The target of the abuse, Samuel Eto’o, conjured the perfect response just before the break. The Cameroonian striker shifted the ball onto his left foot before firing a low drive into the bottom corner from just outside the penalty area. Eto’o marked his twelfth goal in eleven games with by ironically mimicking a monkey in front of his tormentors.
Inter held on for the three points but were unconvincing for much of the game. Cagliari were the better side throughout the second half and were foiled repeatedly by Júlio César and the woodwork.The win should be considered to be a massive boost for the European champions, who were without Diego Milito, Esteban Cambiasso, Goran Pandev and David Suazo for Sunday’s fixture. Benitez’s injury concerns were deepened in Sardinia as Maicon and Wesley Sneijder both picked up knocks.
Another side with a burgeoning list of injuries is Fiorentina. La Viola entered Sunday’s game against Sampdoria needing a victory to take them out of the relegation zone. All was going well for Sinisa Mihajlovic’s men in the early stages, and they took the lead when Juan Manuel Vargas’ cross was headed in by Marco Marchionni. The Fiorentina midfielder climbed above Sampdoria’s Reto Ziegler to score.
The Swiss fullback redeemed himself spectacularly with just nine minutes remaining. The former Tottenham defender looked to be shaping up to deliver an inswinging cross from his long range freekick. Instead, he cracked a swerving effort past Sebastien Frey to bring Sampdoria level.
The television broadcasters had barely finished showing replays of Ziegler’s wondergoal when Antonio Cassano put Sampdoria in front. Fantantonio collected the ball in the final third and demonstrated trademark nimble footwork to allow him to score what would prove to be the winner. Unfortunately the cameras were quick enough to capture Cassano’s bare-chested celebration.
So despondent were Fiorentina after the defeat, that even the notoriously hard Mihajlovic called the tears of a number of his players “understandable”. The crushing loss leaves Fiorentina alone at the foot of the Serie A table with a mere five points after seven games.
Fiorentina’s failings are not shared by Juventus. This Serie A season is becoming pleasantly predictable. If the opening seven fixtures have shown us anything it is that Samuel Eto’o will consistently find the net and that Javier Pastore and Milos Krasic will amaze us with boundless creativity. Krasic crafted three goals for the Bianconeri on Sunday against Lecce, including a landmark strike for Alessandro Del Piero. The one Gianni Agnelli dubbed il Pinturicchio, after the Renaissance painter, notched his 178th league goal for Juventus, equalling Giampiero Boniperti’s record for La Vecchia Signora.
Elsewhere, Roma recorded a rare win over Genoa at the Stadio Olimpico. Marco Borriello gave the Giallorossi the lead against his old club in the first half, before Matteo Brighi doubled Roma’s advantage. Genoa pulled a goal back but Claudio Ranieri’s side held on to secure a 2-1 win. Fellow Romans, Lazio, stayed at the top of the table after beating Bari by 2-0 at the Stadio San Nicola. The goals came from Lazio’s exceptional Brazilian Hernanes and Sergio Floccari.
A late diving header from Bernardo Corradi gave Udinese a 1-0 win over Brescia. Sunday’s other fixtures saw two 1-1 draws between Catania and Napoli as well as Cesena and Parma.