Week 21 might just have proved to be the decisive weekend of the Serie A season. Two crucial games took place at the top of the table as Juventus faced Roma, and Internazionale and Milan clashed in Italy’s fiercest derby. Here’s how it all went…
Was this the game that defined the season? Internazionale’s impressive 2-0 victory over fierce rivals Milan in the Derby della Madonnina last Sunday saw the reigning champions extend their lead at the top of the table to nine points and took Jose Mourinho’s team another step closer to regaining the Scudetto. Diego Milito gave the Nerazzurri the lead in the tenth minute and, although Wesley Sneijder was sent off for dissent in the first half, Inter continued to dominate, Goran Pandev sealing the win with a free-kick after sixty-six minutes. For Leonardo and his team it’s back to the drawing board as the Rossoneri face an increasingly difficult battle to wrestle the Serie A title away from their rivals.
The other major game at the top of the table saw Roma pile yet more misery upon Ciro Ferarra’s Juventus, as John Arne Riise scored a last minute goal to claim a 1-2 win for the Giallorossi in Turin. Alessandro Del Piero had given Juve the lead with a brilliant volley shortly after half time, but Francesco Totti equalised from the penalty spot fifteen minutes later before Riise’s crucial late strike. To make matters worse for Ferrara, Gianluigi Buffon was sent off for a blatant foul on Riise and will be suspended for the forthcoming visit of Lazio. The Bianconeri have now lost seven of their last eleven games, slipped to sixth place and look like they may struggle to reach the Champions League places come the end of the season. Somehow, Ferrara still clings to his job.
At the Stadio Barbera, Palermo convincingly beat visitors Fiorentina 3-0 in a clash between two of the major contenders for European places. Two first-half goals from Abel Hernandez set the Rosanero on their way to a comfortable victory, Igor Budan rounding off the win with a penalty on the hour and compounding La Viola’s recent problems. Palermo now move up to fifth place as Cesare Prandelli’s side slip to ninth.
An in-form Napoli side travelled to Livorno on Sunday afternoon and continued to press their claim for the final Champions League place with a 0-2 win. Cristian Maggio opened the scoring on the stroke of half-time with one of the goals of the season, a truly stunning Van Basten-like volley from the edge of the area. Despite Livorno playing some good football, the Partenopei sealed their win in injury time at the end of the game as Luca Cigarini fired home a free-kick. Walter Mazzarri’s side continue to impress and look capable of securing European football by the end of the season.
In the weekend’s other games, Catania beat Parma 3-0, Bologna surprisingly edged out Bari 2-1, Hernan Crespo helped Genoa to a 2-0 victory over Atalanta, Lazio managed a 1-1 draw with Chievo, Sampdoria won a thrilling encounter with Udinese 2-3 at the Stadio Friuli and strugglers Siena got a well-earned point in a 1-1 draw with Cagliari.