Sunday, February 25, 2024

The Latest Football News and Opinions From 90 Minutes Online

Italian Serie A review – Mourinho sent-off and Beckham scores

Saturday evening’s fixture saw Inter dislodged from the top of the table for the first time in three months as Juventus beat Fiorentina in Turin. The 1-0 victory  came courtesy of a Claudio Marchisio goal but was largely thanks to Alessandro Del Piero.  

 

Although simple in execution, the move had the mark of genius as Del Piero cut inside from the left drawing in three defenders and slid a through ball that bisected two more. During 5 seconds on the ball Del Piero had nullified five members of the opposition defense and laid the ball on a plate for Marchisio to slot home. 

 

 

 

 

Fiorentina should have been level 10 minutes later as former-Milan striker, Alberto Gilardino, had the ball in the back of the net, only for his effort to be erroneously ruled out for offside. 

 

The game petered out somewhat after that and although the returning Gianluigi Buffon in Juventus’s goal and Sebastian Frey at the other end each had to make decent saves, the scoreline remained 1-0. 

 

It must have been uncomfortable viewing for Inter as they were left to ruminate on the loss of their lead before a home tie with Sampdoria the next day.  

 

Although they had been flying prior to the winter break, Mourinho’s side had failed to record a domestic league win since they went on their Christmas hols over five weeks ago.   

 

To add to their problems Inter went into the match without the talismanic Zlatan Ibrahimovic; but Sampdoria themselves were missing their top marksman, the virile Antonio Cassano 

 

A lack of cutting edge for either side was evident as the tetchy opening exchanges played themselves out to little avail and the deadlock was finally broken at the end of the first-half.  

 

The brilliantly in-form Maicon made a surging run down the right and his cut back inside left Sampdoria’s Mirko Pieri hurtling towards the corner flag. His perfectly arced cross to Adriano at the far post left the cumbersome Brazilian needing only to stick a leg out and prod the ball into the net.  

 

The match wasn’t without controversy as Samdoria were denied a penalty after Marius Stankevicius tussled with Sulley Muntari down the left. And Tempers were frayed further as Adriano was accused of an over zealous shove-come-punch on Daniele Gastaldello as the ball came over for a cross. 

 

Never one to shy away from confrontation, Jose Mourinho let his feelings be known as he stormed out of his technical are and shouted 'What are you scared of?!' at the referee. The ref rose to the challenge and showed no fear in showing the Portuguese coach the way to the stands.  

 

The score remained 1-0 and the champions returned to their berth at the top of the table, in spite of yet another sub-standard performance. 

 

It was instead left to Inter’s city rivals to demonstrate what a convincing win looked like as Milan won 4-1 at Bologna.  

 

After some lively opening exchanges Milan fell behind after nine minutes. Christian Amoroso earned a penalty as he went down between Paolo Maldini and Philippe Senderos in the box and Marco Di Vaio stepped up to coolly dispatch the ball into the roof of the net from the spot.  

 

The lead wasn’t to be long-lived as Milan were level within five minutes. Some meandering trickery on the edge of the box resulted in Kaka unleashing a shot that Francesco Antonioli in the Bologna goal could only parry, with Clarence Seedorf sweeping in to stab home the rebound from a tight angle.  

 

After another 3 minutes Milan were ahead. Gianluca Zambrotta was softly adjudged to have been impeded as brought the ball into the box and Kaka stroked home the resulting spot-kick to make it 2-1. 

 

Things went from bad to worse for Bologna when they were reduced to ten men on 38 minutes. As Alexandre Pato sprinted forward on the counter attack he was cynically sliced down by Gaby Mudingayi. The Congolese midfielder had already been booked and could have few complaints about being given his marching orders.  

 

Milan’s third came before half-time. Some nice interplay between Kaka and Seedorf saw the Brazilian dribbling the ball parallel to the goal at the edge of the 18-yard-box. His unstoppable shot with his weaker left foot gave Milan a 3-1 lead.  

 

As expected Milan dominated in the second half and their fourth came after 60 minutes. An incisive break away saw Pato bringing the ball forward at pace. He knocked it to Seedorf on his right who in turn passed it to the unlikely legs of Beckham keeping up with the counter. The Englishman’s finish was impeccable as he fired the ball into the nearside top corner, leaving Antonioli powerless to stop it.  

 

Lazio’s good form stuttered on Sunday as the suffered a crushing 4-1 home defeat against Cagliari. Although they took the lead on three minutes thanks to through Tommaso Rocci, that was to be the extent of their joy. 

 

Within five minutes of opening the scoring they were 2-1 down thanks to a headed quick-fire double salvo from the Brazilian, Jeda.  

 

Cagliari only compounded Lazio’s woes with a spot-kick from Robert Aquafresca and a glancing header from Alessandro Matri making it 4-1 before half-time.   

 

Lazio will be disappointed at such a poor performance, but Rocchi and Mauro Zarate have even greater reason to hang their heads with both missing penalties in the second half.   

 

Elsewhere, Roma romped to a resounding 3-0 victory over Napoli in Naples, with goals from Philip Mexes, and Juan in the first half, and Vucinic in the second; Udinese continued their dire domestic run without a league win since October, losing 3-2 at Palermo; and Cheivo lifted themselves off the foot of the table with a 1-0 victory over fellow strugglers Reggina.  

 

Results: Reggina 0-1 Chievo, Juventus 1-0 Fiorentina, Siena 1-0 Atalanta, Palermo 3-2 Udinese, Napoli 0-3 Roma, Lecce 3-3 Torino, Lazio 1-4 Cagliari, Inter Milan 1-0 Sampdoria, Genoa 1-1 Catania, Bologna 1-4 AC Milan            

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