Motta’s brace leads Inter to year-opening win

Thursday, January 6, 2011

ROME - Thiago Motta scored a brace for Inter Milan to secure a 3-1 win late Thursday over Napoli in the first soccer game for the Serie A champions with new coach Leonardo on the bench.

The Nerazzurri took the lead on their first offensive action with Motta volleying home from the edge of the box after a quick exchange with Dejan Stankovic.

Michele Pazienza levelled on 25 minutes with a corner-kick header, but Argentine Esteban Cambiasso nodded home a Douglas Maicon cross before the break.

Another majestic header from Motta on 55 minutes secured the win for Inter as Napoli failed to offer valid scoring chances to their Uruguayan striker Edinson Cavani.

The Italian and European champions closed 2010 with a triumph at the Club World Cup in the United Arab Emirates, but are struggling in the Serie A with a 13-point gap from leading city rivals AC Milan.

They can, however, reduce the deficit through two games in hand against strugglers Cesena and Fiorentina.

Brazilian Leonardo, a former player and coach with Milan, replaced Spaniard Rafael Benitez during a two-week winter break and debuted with a win despite missing goalkeeper Julio Cesar, playmaker Wesley Sneijder and the suspended Samuel Eto’o.

Earlier in the first round of games of 2011, AC Milan snatched a late 1-0 win at Cagliari to confirm their lead on 39 points from 18 games, with Lazio trailing on 34 after drawing 0-0 at Genoa, and Napoli stuck on 33.

Giants Juve crashed 4-1 at home to minnows Parma to end an unbeaten run they began in late September.

At Rome’s Stadio Olimpico, Montenegro’s Mirko Vucinic came on with 15 minutes left to add his brace to that of team-mate Marco Borriello to beat Catania 4-2 and leapfrog Juve into fourth place.

Palermo crushed Sampdoria 3-0, Udinese won 2-0 against Chievo with Antonio Di Natale taking the top-scorer spot on 11 goals, while Bologna and Fiorentina drew 1-1.

In drop-zone action, bottom side Bari beat Lecce 1-0, and Cesena won 2-1 at Brescia.

Filed under: Soccer

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