Testata – Moments of madness are relatively common in Italian football. We’ve had Cassano’s outbursts, Totti kicking Mario Balotelli and anything involving Paolo Di Canio. Now, we have testata di Eto’o; Eto’o's headbutt.
If a moment was needed to represent Internazionale‘s fall from grace, it was provided by the Cameroon striker. With the reigning champions trailing in Verona, Eto’o was riled by Chievo‘s Bostjan Cesar and sought revenge. The former Barcelona star, a lone positive in Inter’s middling season to date, turned and butted the Slovenian in the chest in an attack more than a little similar to that witnessed in the World Cup Final of 2006.
Unlike Monsieur Zidane’s famous transgression, however, Eto’o's was not spotted by the match officials and played the rest of the match, even bagging Inter a consolation goal in the dying minutes. Chievo secured the 2-1 win with goals coming from veteran defender Sergio Pellisier and Davide Moscardelli.
The result leaves Inter in sixth place, a massive nine points off their city rivals.
AC Milan‘s Zlatan Ibrahimovic has found himself prone to similar temperamental implosions in the past. On Saturday he produced a moment of brilliance as the Rossoneri increased their advantage at the top of the table against Fiorentina. Robinho sent in a cross from deep which bounced off the turf. Ibra, with has back to goal, flicked the ball up before contorting himself and sending a tremendous, low overhead kick towards the far post. It was placed to perfection.
The Swedish international was understandably pleased with himself. So visible was his delight, that he punched the air vigorously and appeared to injure himself in the process. Even geniuses are prone to errors.
The 1-0 win was made all the more significant by Lazio‘s failure to beat Parma. The Biancocelesti were off-colour at the Ennio Tardini and were forced to come from behind to draw after a former Lazio striker gave the home-side the lead. Parma have rarely held the upper-hand in any match this season, so Hernán Crespo’s goal will have been a pleasant surprise for them too.
Sergio Floccari pegged Parma back before the break but Lazio were unable to seize control of the game thereafter and the match finished 1-1.
While Lazio were not enjoying themselves away from home, Roma were once again in peak form at the Olimpico. The Giallorossi were undefeated at the north Rome venue coming into Saturday’s game against Udinese. They resistance offered by the Zebrette was not enough to prevent Roma from improving this record as they ran out 2-0 winners. Jérémy Menez demonstrated his dribbling prowess as he surged past two defenders before curling a glorious finish past Samir Handanovic in the first half.
After Marco Borriello added to Roma’s lead, Udinese were given hope by the dismissal of Nicolás Burdisso. An apparently valid goal by Germán Denis for the visitors was disallowed for offside and Roma survived, pushing up to fourth in the process.
Just ahead of Roma in the table are Juventus. La Vecchia Signora were in action against Genoa and might consider themselves rather fortunate to bring three points back to Turin. The first goal, an own goal, will haunt Genoa’s goalkeeper, Eduardo. The Portuguese international was beaten by Claudio Marchisio’s deflected shot only for the ball to rebound off the post, hit the back of his head and roll across the line.
He will feel equally culpable for Juventus’s second. Milos Krasic returned to Juventus’ starting line-up for the first time since his diving suspension and embarked on a slaloming run across the Udinese penalty area. His direct effort brought a feeble attempt at a save out of Eduardo, who was unable to prevent the ball from nestling in the far corner.
Genoa hit the crossbar twice as they attempt to recover from their misfortune. A late Diego Maradona imitation from Luca Toni was spotted by the referee who rightly awarded Juventus a free-kick for handball. Although Juventus rode their luck at times, they ultimately deserved the win.
Elsewhere, Giampaolo Pazzinimight have finally given Cesare Prandelli something to consider as his hat-trick gave Sampdoria a 3-2 win over a spirited Lecce. Napoli put on the best show Naples has seen since Elton John was in town. The Partenopei were ruthless and triumphed 4-1 against Bologna.
Special mention must go to the pointy-haired Slovakian Marek Hamsik. Despite torrential conditions in Naples, the stratospheric proportions of Hamsik’s barnet endured. Hamsik himself prospered in the rain, producing a terrific display including two well taken goals. Napoli’s other goals came courtesy of Christian Maggio and Edinson Cavani as the Neapolitans rounded off an entertaining weekend of Serie A action.
We will be hoping for more of the same next week as Juventus play host to Fiorentina in a Lombardy derby. Milan come up against Sampdoria in Genoa in what the chasing pack must see as a potentially problematic encounter for the Rossoneri and an opportunity to make up lost ground on the league leaders.