Milan triumph while Inter stagger
AC Milan went top of Serie A on Wednesday with a 3-1 victory over Palermo at the San Siro as previous leaders Lazio crashed 1-0 at newly-promoted Cesena.
Pato opened the scoring for Milan before Armin Bacinovic equalised for the Sicilians but a Zlatan Ibrahimovic penalty and late Robinho third gave the Rossoneri the championship lead. There were a couple of early half chances but Palermo's Mauricio Pinilla swiped at thin air with the goal at his mercy when well placed while up the other end Ibrahimovic dragged a shot wide.
Milan took the lead on 19 minutes in somewhat straight-forward fashion as Pato rose to power home a header from Massimo Ambrosini's corner following some feeble marking from Bacinovic. Palermo were marginally the more dangerous despite an under par performance from playmaker Javier Pastore but Pinilla's firm header on 29 minutes from Mattia Cassani's cross was straight at Christian Abbiati while the goalkeeper had little trouble dealing with Josip Ilicic's effort from distance on 44 minutes.
Abbiati was kept busy without being overly stretched and on 48 minutes he tipped Cesare Bovo's powerful curling free-kick over the bar. The deserved equaliser came on 63 minutes. Bacinovic lined up from fully 25 yards out but his shot lacked venom. Even so, Thiago Silva slipped and missed the ball while Abbiati seemed to have assumed his defence would deal with it and he was a static spectator as the ball crept into the corner of the net.
Milan almost went back in front as Clarence Seedorf fired against the post and then headed the rebound just wide. But then Ambrosini was brought down by goalkeeper Salvatore Sirigu and Ibrahimovic despatched the penalty with aplomb. Milan were then able to hit Palermo on the break with Ibrahimovic teeing up substitute Robinho to kill the game seven minutes from time.
Elsewhere, Lazio lost the lead after suffering a second successive loss after Sunday's 2-0 derby defeat to Roma. Marco Parolo scored the only goal of the game five minutes from time as Lazio fell to second.
Reigning Serie A champions Inter Milan, meanwhile, dropped to fourth as they drew for the fifth time in their 11 games as Lecce came from behind to snatch a point. Diego Milito scored just his third goal of the season on 76 minutes only for Uruguayan Ruben Oliver, back from a suspension, to cancel that out three minutes later.
Napoli, who finished the game carrying two injured players, moved up to third as Argentina forward Ezequiel Lavezzi snatched a winner deep into injury time as they won 1-0 at Cagliari.
"We did really not to get disorganised at the end. If we keep playing like this we can get some important results," enthused Lavezzi.
Juventus veteran Alessandro del Piero was unable to celebrate his birthday with a goal as Juventus were held to a 1-1 draw at Brescia, dropping them into fifth place. Del Piero turned 36 yesterday but the talismanic striker and his side had to settle for a point at lowly Brescia after two goals in two second-half minutes lit up an otherwise uninspiring contest. Alessandro Diamanti pulled the scores level after Fabio Quagliarella's opener.
Despite a poor start to the season, sixth-placed Roma are just five points off top now following a third win in a row. Brazilian Simplicio opened the scoring in their 3-1 win over Fiorentina at the Stadio Olimpico with Marco Borriello doubling it. Alberto Gilardino pulled one back but Simone Perrotta made the points safe.
Catania claimed their first win since late September by edging past Udinese at the Stadio Angelo Massimino thanks to Maxi Lopez's goal on the hour mark, while Chievo and Bari drew 0-0. Davide Ballardini's tenure as Genoa coach started with success as the Rossoblu won their first Serie A game since the start of October. Omar Milanetto was the hero as he scored the decisive goal in the 81st minute of a tense encounter at the Stadio Luigi Ferraris.