Week sixteen of the Serie A season proved to be one packed with surprising results as Italy’s three biggest teams all failed to win in what were, on paper at least, relatively straightforward fixtures for Milan, Juventus and Inter.
League leaders Internazionale could only draw 1-1 with Lombardy rivals Atalanta when they travelled to the Stadio Azzurri d’Italia on Sunday afternoon. Despite their lowly eighteenth position in the table, Atalanta produced a battling display to come from behind to tie with Jose Mourinho’s side after Diego Milito had put the Nerazzurri ahead in the early stages with a sparkling individual run and finish. Mario Balotelli and Wesley Sneijder both created chances for the defending league champions, but the home side were continued to create opportunities of their own with Fabio Ceravolo and Ferreira Pinto coming close for the Orobici. With the dismissal of Sneijder for a cynical trip after 65 minutes, the hosts started to believe in the possibility of a comeback and were eventually rewarded for their endeavour when Simone Tribocchi beat Julio Cesar to seal a wonderful point for his side and pile more pressure on the increasingly erratic Mourinho.
Inter may have failed to beat the plucky Atalanta, but the Nerazzurri were able to extend their lead at the top of Serie A as second-placed Milan were surprisingly comfortably beaten by Palermo at the San Siro. Although Leonardo’s side were missing a number of first team players after the exertions of the mid-week Champions League encounter with FC Zurich, the visitors dominated large portions of the game with Dida being kept busy by the likes of Mark Bresciano and Antonio Nocerino. Despite chances for Clarence Seedorf and Marco Borriello, it was Palermo who took the lead courtesy of Fabrizio Miccoli’s sublime shot which arced into the top corner of Dida’s net. With the Rossoneri reeling, Bresciano compounded Milan’s misery on the hour with a simple finish from close range to put the game well beyond doubt and bring an end to the home side’s excellent run of form.
Ciro Ferrara’s Juventus ended a dismal week – one which had included a humiliating exit from the Champions League at the hands of Bayern Munich – with another defeat, this time a pathetic 3-1 loss away to Bari. The home side took the lead after just seven minutes as a lack of concentration from Claudio Marchisio saw the ball given away to Riccardo Meggiorini whose deflected volley beat the helpless Gianluigi Buffon. Twenty minutes later David Trezeguet equalised for the Bianconeri, slotting home after Diego’s shot was palmed into his path by the Bari ‘keeper to bring Juve back into a game in which they were getting thoroughly outplayed. Bari re-took the lead just before the break, Vitor Barreto winning a penalty which he duly dispatched himself. Juve didn’t enjoy the same luck from the spot, Diego wasting an opportunity to level the game as he smashed the ball over the bar from twelve yards. The Biancorossi, who enjoyed a superb second half, eventually scored a third late on through Sergio Almiron’s low shot to send Juve home humiliated and facing a barrage of criticism.
Elsewhere, Lazio ended their wretched run of form with a 1-0 win over high-flying Genoa. With Davide Ballardini somehow clinging onto his job, the Biancocelesti pulled a result out of the bag – their first win since week two – to save their under-fire manager and, potentially, turn their season around. In an end-to-end game with plenty of chances for both sides, it was Aleksandar Kolarov who broke the deadlock five minutes before the break with an inspired run, shrugging off a couple of defenders before firing beyond Alessio Scarpi low into the bottom corner. Despite Genoa posing a constant threat to the Lazio goal, the home side held out to secure the three points and bring some cheer to the Stadio Olimpico faithful.
During a weekend when the form book was well and truly torn up, there were also wins for Livorno who triumphed 0-1 away to Catania, Chievo, who secured a shock 2-1 victory over Fiorentina, Parma, who dispatched Bologna 2-1, and Siena, who surprisingly won out against Udinese in another 2-1 score line.
Week 16 Results in Full:
Atalanta 1-1 Internazionale
Bari 3-1 Juventus
Cagliari 3-3 Napoli
Catania 0-1 Livorno
Chievo 2-1 Fiorentina
Lazio 1-0 Genoa
Milan 0-2 Palermo
Parma 2-1 Bologna
Sampdoria 0-0 Roma
Siena 2-1 Udinese