Palermo hold Inter, Lazio win derby
Palermo breathed life into the Serie A title race with a gritty comeback in a 2-2 draw with Inter Milan at the San Siro today, as Italian football mourned the victims of the Abruzzo earthquake. A minute's silence was observed at all top-flight matches, while players wore black armbands for the disaster which has claimed 291 lives.
First-half goals from Mario Balotelli and Zlatan Ibrahimovic had the leaders seemingly cruising towards a 12-point lead at the top of the table. But a stirring fightback from their Sicilian visitors means that second-placed Juventus can cut Inter's lead to seven points, ahead of their championship decider next week in Turin, if they win their tough trip to Genoa later today.
Palermo's ineffectual offside trap contributed greatly to Inter's early dominance, but after surviving when Ibrahimovic chipped wide when clean through, they were not so lucky on 15 minutes when Balotelli ran past a static Morris Carrozzieri to head home Sulley Muntari's cross from the left.
Balotelli could have added a second when he ran clear of the Palermo backline once again, but he couldn't beat Marco Amelia in the visitors' goal. However, Inter doubled the advantage six minutes before the break as Ibrahimovic converted the penalty he had won when going down in the box following contact with Simon Kjaer.
Inter seemed to be cruising but two goals in two minutes turned the game on its head. Brazilian forward Edison Cavani beat veteran goalkeeper Francesco Toldo at his near post on 73 minutes, and then substitute Davide Succi lost marker Cristian Chivu to tap home Fabrizio Miccoli's cross from close range.
Lazio get the better of six
Lazio claimed the honours 4-2 in a thrilling, action-packed Rome derby, as Roma lost further ground in the chase for fourth place and UEFA Champions League football next season. The nominal hosts - the clubs share Rome's Stadio Olimpico - were off to a flyer when Macedonia striker Goran Pandev rifled home a volley on two minutes, and Argentina forward Mauro Zarate hit a spectacular, swerving effort two minutes after that.
Roma muscled back into the match on ten minutes when French defender Philippe Mexes lashed home a loose ball at a corner, but he and centre-back partner Christian Panucci were left grounded as Switzerland defender Stephan Lichtsteiner rose to head home a cross from Pasquale Foggia.
Any hopes Roma had of salvaging something seemed to end when Panucci was sent off for a second booking, after which Mexes and Lazio's Francesco Matuzalem both received their marching orders for arguing, as well as Giallorossi coach Luciano Spalletti and a member of Lazio's backroom staff.
Ten minutes from time Daniele De Rossi set up a tense finale as he reduced the arrears with a looping header. But Aleksandar Kolarov settled the match five minutes later when he somehow ran unopposed from the edge of his own box to that of Roma's, before beating goalkeeper Doni with a low right-foot finish.
Fiorentina moved six points clear of Roma in the race for fourth place as they defeated Cagliari 2-1 at home, while AC Milan tightened their grip on third place with a fortunate 1-0 success at Chievo.