Serie A wrap: Juventus stay on top as Inter and Milan both struggle
Juventus win their fourth successive Serie A match as AC Milan and Internazionale continue to struggle, writes Kieran Beckles
Juve could retain title at a canter
Juventus have opened up a two-point lead at the top of Serie A as Antonio Conte’s side won their fourth successive game at home to Chievo. The defending champions were frustrated by the relegation candidates in the first half at the Juventus Stadium, with the home side suffering a European hangover following their 2-2 draw with Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday. However, Fabio Quagliarella, who netted against the Blues, continued his recent purple patch with a five-minute brace to extend the Turin outfit’s unbeaten record to 43 games. The 27-year-old was denied in the first half by some superb keeping from Chievo’s Stefano Sorrentino but broke the deadlock in the 64th minute, when his spectacular overhead kick crept into the Chievo net. His second had shades of Dennis Bergkamp when the Italy international took a sublime first touch to outwit Dario Danielli and tucked his finish past Sorrentino.
Cagilari and Roma postponed
This weekend’s Serie A fixture between Cagliari and Roma was cancelled after the Cagliari Prefecture and Italian Football Federation held an emergency meeting on Saturday night. Cagliari had been forced to play their previous home game against Atalanta behind in an empty Is Arenas after their new ground failed to reach the required safety standards. In a week in which the Hillsborough disaster has dominated the thoughts of the footballing world, Cagliari president Massimo Cellino encouraged the club’s season ticket holders to attend the game in a statement released on Saturday, defying the orders of the authorities. It read: “Cagliari, represented by president Massimo Cellino and everyone who works for the club, sees a difficult future ahead thanks to the bureaucratic problems and a lack of interest shown by the authorities. We invite all fans with season tickets to come to the stadium for the Cagliari-Roma match in an ordered and civilised manner. Cagliari and the engineers consider the structure to be secure. This move is peaceful but is borne out of pain and frustration of having to defend our right to exist.” The cancellation has unsurprisingly irked Roma, who were in the city ahead of the match, but their anger will be pacified after the Rome outfit are awarded a 3-0 victory for the disruption by the Italian football authorities, pursuant to Article 17 of Federcalcio.
Milan in ruins
AC Milan and Internazionale are currently bonded by anguish as the pair slumped to defeats by Udinese and Siena respectively, with Juve maintaining their 100 per cent record. Milan made the trip to Udinese fresh from a goalless draw with Anderlecht in the Champions League at the San Siro on Tuesday. However, Udinese debutant Mathias Ranegie put the home side in front in 40th minute when he outjumped Philippe Mexes, leaving Massimo Abbiati stranded. In the second half, Stephan El Shaarawy levelled with a long-range strike but Udinese were soon back in front when Cristián Zapata was dismissed for a foul in Milan’s area and Antonio Di Natale netted from the spot. Massimiliano Allegri, who is facing fresh speculation about his job, saw his side reduced to nine men when Kevin-Prince Boatang was sent off for a second bookable offence. Meanwhile, Internazionale slumped to a 2-0 defeat by Siena after the hosts wasted numerous chances and were punished. Wesley Sneijder and Esteban Cambiasso both came close for Inter but Simone Vergassola and Francesco Valiani both netted in the second half to seal a surprise away win. It extends the Milan clubs miserable run – seven games in total – on their new partially synthetic pitch which was laid over the summer.
Goal of the week: El Shaarawy’s strike against Udinese
This edition’s goal of the week goes to Milan’s El Shaarawy for his super strike in Udine – although Juve striker Quagliarella deserves a special mention for his double against Chievo. El Shaarawy’s right-footed goal was both composed but powerful, although it only served to offer small consolation to a beleaguered Milan side.