Balotelli saves Milan, Inter leapfrogs city rival
Mario Balotelli scored his third goal in two games for AC Milan to snatch a share of the points in a 1-1 draw at Cagliari today as Roma's slump continued with a 3-1 defeat to Sampdoria.
But despite securing a share of the points in Sardinia, the striker spurned several chances to secure all three points for Milan during a finale in which the visitors belatedly laid siege to the Cagliari goal.
Cagliari dominated the first half and took a 45th-minute lead through Victory Ibarbo's close range header. It was the Colombian's first goal this season for Cagliari, who looked set to grab a precious victory until Milan levelled late in the match.
In a goalmouth melee, Balotelli prepared for an overhead kick but was impeded by Cagliari defender Davide Astori, who was sent off for a second bookable offence as the referee pointed to the spot. The Italy international stepped up to send Michael Agazzi the wrong way to level and claim his third goal in two games.
Inter Milan capitalised on those dropped points at the San Siro to move up to fourth place with a convincing 3-1 win over Chievo. Antonio Cassano gave Inter a second-minute lead when his strike squeezed past Christian Puggioni in the Chievo net.
Chievo levelled on 21 minutes thanks to Luca Rigoni, but two minutes later defender Andrea Ranocchia rose above the opposition defence to send a bullet header past Puggioni. Inter's domination continued into the second half, the Nerazzurri taking just five minutes to score a third after Diego Milito trapped Esteban Cambiasso's cross in the area to rifle home.
Roma suffered their tenth defeat of the campaign. The result, coupled with Udinese's 1-0 home win over Torino, dropped the capital club to ninth place. Roma sacked coach Zdenek Zeman last week after a humiliating 4-2 home reverse to Cagliari. However, caretaker coach Aurelio Andreazzoli has work to do if he is to plug the holes in Roma's defence which has now conceded 45 goals.
Paraguayan midfielder Marcelo Estigarribia broke the deadlock on 56 minutes with a low angled drive and the hosts doubled their lead on 73 minutes when second-half substitute Gianluca Sansone rifled a freekick past Maarten Stekelenburg.
Argentine midfielder Erik Lamela reduced arrears two minutes later, however Sampdoria secured the win when Argentine Emanuele Icardi was left unmarked to beat Stekelenburg at the back post from a 77th minute corner.
Elsewhere in other Serie A action, it was a draw-filled day as Parma and Genoa went goalless and Catania took a point at Atalanta by the same scoreline. Palermo drew 1-1 at home to Pescara, while Bologna and Siena both tallied a goal to share the points.
Juventus, who face Celtic in Glasgow in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League last 16 tie on Tuesday, beat Fiorentina 2-0 yesterday and now have a five-point lead on Napoli after they could only sneak a 1-1 draw at Lazio.