Inter extend lead over rivals
Diego Milito equalised three minutes from time to deny David Beckham a winning goal as AC Milan were held to a 1-1 draw by Genoa at the San Siro. Just three days after scoring his first goal for Milan, in the 4-1 win at Bologna, the former England captain scored his second from a free-kick but it was not enough to guide the Italian giants to victory.
The goal, however, will have done little to calm the developing Beckham drama in Milan, where both club and player have admitted they wish to extend his proposed two-month loan stay.
Milan coach Carlo Ancelotti was understandably disappointed after the game, and gave short shrift to a question about Beckham staying. "We haven't managed to win a match in which we played really well and which we deserved to win," he said. "I'm disappointed that we've tripped up because the team was on the right path but the championship goes on." On Beckham he added: "He is appreciated here and if he stays we'll be happy but he has to resolve the problem with his club."
When Beckham, under contract with LA Galaxy in the USA, lined up wide on the left of the area just after the half hour, it seemed more likely that a cross was coming. But the former Manchester United and Real Madrid midfielder stunned Genoa's Brazilian goalkeeper Rubinho by shooting into the top corner at the near post. However, Serie A joint-top scorer Milito poked home from close range late on to dampen the party atmosphere in the San Siro.
Inter extend lead
The draw meant that third-placed Milan fell eight points behind leaders Inter Milan, as the champions won 2-0 at Catania in Sicily despite playing for an hour with ten men.
Coach Jose Mourinho sat out a one-match ban in the stands, but star striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic said the team were not affected. "Today the manager wasn't there but we were just as good with our boss in the stands and when he returns we'll be even better," he said. "We played a great match with a man down and it wasn't easy but we showed our strength."
Inter were off to a stunning start when Dejan Stankovic gave them the lead after just five minutes. Julio Cruz escaped down the right, turned inside his marker and crossed with his left foot as the Serbian stormed into the box to glance home a header.
Catania thought they had equalised on 13 minutes when Michele Paolucci fired a loose ball past Julio Cesar, but Japanese forward Takayuki Morimoto was penalised for a high foot on Argentinian centre-back Nicolas Burdisso, who had stooped to almost waist height to meet a cross with his head.
Catania then had a let off as Ibrahimovic, earlier booked for a dive in the box, crashed a shot against the bar. However, any hard feelings Catania may have had for Paolucci's disallowed strike were eased as Ghana midfielder Sulley Muntari was shown a straight red card for a foul on Giacomo Tedesco on 31 minutes.
Tedesco's foot got caught under Muntari's leg as he slid in and the referee stunned the Inter players by pulling out the red card. The same post that had saved Catania in the first half came to Inter's rescue on the hour, as Guiseppe Mascara's cross deflected off Burdisso's head and left Julio Cesar helpless.
But 20 minutes from time Ibrahimovic settled the affair for the champions as he beat the offside trap, latched on to Stankovic's long ball forward, chipped the stranded goalkeeper Albano Bizarri and collected the ball before slotting home.
Inter's lead now stands at six points after Juventus lost 2-1 at Udinese, who won for the first time in 12 matches. Fabio Quagliarella gave Udinese the lead on 20 minutes, after a lightning break involving Antonio Di Natale and Kwadwo Assamoah. Di Natale added a second 16 minutes from time, but three minutes later Vincenzo Iaquinta pulled a goal back from the penalty spot to set up a nervy finale.
Last season's runners-up Roma continued their recovery from a terrible start by beating Palermo 2-1 at home with first-half goals by Matteo Brighi and captain Francesco Totti, returning from more than a month out with a thigh muscle injury. Roma's fourth consecutive league win puts them one point behind fourth-placed Genoa.