The Premier League was marred with controversy on Sunday, with Luis Suárez denied a legitimate late winner due to an incorrect decision in the Merseyside derby and Manchester United’s Javier Hernández netting the winner against Chelsea despite being offside. Similarly in Serie A, Catania were left livid after being denied a perfectly legitimate goal in a 1-0 defeat by defending champions Juventus. In the 24th minute, Gonzalo Bergessio followed up Nicolás Spolli’s header to finish from close range and seemingly put the home side ahead. However, more than 30 seconds after Bergessio had initially spun away in celebration, the referee disallowed the strike following discussions with his linesman. Replays showed the goal was valid. To make matters worse, Juve’s winner should not have stood after Arsenal’s Nicklas Bendtner received the ball in an offside position, with Arturo Vidal on hand to follow up the Dane’s shot which had been saved by Catania goalkeeper Mariano Andujar. On Monday morning, Juve director general Beppe Moratta emphatically quashed claims of a conspiracy, saying: “I agree that there was a refereeing mistake yesterday but there have been other mistakes in previous matches and last year Juve was on the receiving end. But we categorically reject any idea of a conspiracy, that Juve somehow affected the result yesterday”.
Walter Mazzarri’s men kept in touch with Juve, who had won in Sunday’s early kick-off, courtesy of a 1-0 victory over Chievo at Stadio San Paolo. Christian Maggio and Goran Pandev both spurned first-half chances before Slovakia international Marek Hamsik scored a 57th-minute winner with a left-footed drive past Chievo goalkeeper Stefano Sorrentino to leave Napoli three points behind Juve. However, the Italian Football Federation have opened disciplinary proceedings relating to alleged match-fixing at the club. The case hinges on a 1-0 defeat by Sampdoria on the final day of the 2009-10 season, which helped Napoli’s opponents book their place in the Champions League. Napoli, their former goalkeeper Matteo Gianello and ex-coach Silvio Giusti now face a committee hearing, while defender Paolo Cannavaro and Gianluca Grava have also been charged for failing to disclose the alleged fix. If Napoli are found guilty, the club could face a points deduction – which would threaten to derail their Serie A title challenge – or even demotion.
A poor start to the season left question’s hanging over Andrea Stramaccioni’s Internazionale side, but the San Siro outfit have quietly turned around their season and now look set to challenge Juventus and Napoli for the Serie A crown. Since suffering a 2-0 loss to Siena in September, Inter have gone on a seven-game winning streak leaving them four points behind the defending champions and in pole position to qualify for the Europa League knockout stage. Stramaccioni’s men made the trip to Bologna on Sunday afternoon, and Andrea Ranocchia guided Esteban Cambiasso’s free-kick past Bologna goalkeeper Federico Agliardi to put the visitors ahead in the 27th minute. After half-time, Rodrigo Palacio’s break resulted in a cut-back for Diego Milito, who netted his fourth Serie A goal of the season. Bologna’s Nicolo Cherubin halved the deficit to give the home side hope of salvaging point, but Cambiasso completed a stunning team move to secure the victory. Inter now face a midweek home tie against Sampdoria before making the trip to Juventus on Saturday night.
There were plenty of contenders for this edition. Inter showed great teamwork for Cambiasso’s goal, while Adam Llajic and Luca Toni both scored superb strikes for Fiorentina in a 2-0 victory over Lazio, but Antonio Di Natale netted the pick of 19 goals in Serie A. Having come from 2-0 down against Roma, Udinese were awarded a penalty in the 87th minute to secure maximum points. Di Natale, 35, calmly chipped Roma’s Maarten Stekelenburg to snatch victory in the capital, emulating Andrea Pirlo’s effort against England in Euro 2012, and of course, Antonin Panenka, who originally pioneered the kick.
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