AC Milan strengthen lead with win over over Cesena

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

ROME - Serie A front-runners AC Milan beat lowly Cesena 2-0 late Sunday to resume winning after two draws and set a four-point buffer from pursuers Napoli.

The Devils missed Brazil midfielders Andrea Pirlo, Gennaro Gattuso and Clarence Seedorf and failed to impress their home crowd, but found the lead through an own goal just before the break and had Zlatan Ibrahimovic on target in injury time.

Argentine defender Maximiliano Pellegrino laid past his goalkeeper Francesco Antonioli in a desperate attempt to block a dangerous break from Zlatan Ibrahimovic off an assist from Antonio Cassano.

Cesena did their best in the first half when French forward Dominique Malonga tried three drives in the early minutes before Matias Schelotto pounced on a bad backward pass from Luca Antonini and fired onto custodian Christian Abbiati.

Milan had chances with Brazilian Robinho, Ibra and Antonini before taking the lead, and they controlled the remainder of the game as the promoted guests gradually lost steam.

Napoli won 2-0 earlier Sunday at Bari through goals from Ezequiel Lavezzi and Edinson Cavani to move onto 40 points from 21 games.

In the first half, the Argentine Lavezzi stunned Jean Francois Gillet when he flicked with his heel a free kick from Cavani, who remained the league’s second-best scorer on 14 goals when he laid in off a Lavezzi feed.

Rome side Lazio slipped from second to fourth place after a 3-1 defeat at Bologna, while Sampdoria drew 0-0 at home with injury-plagued Juventus, who missed good chances in the dying minutes with captain Alessandro Del Piero and Amauri.

Fiorentina drew 1-1 at home to lowly Lecce, and Chievo had Slovenian Bostjan Cesar red-carded as they drew 0-0 with Genoa.

Earlier Sunday, top striker Antonio Di Natale was on target for his 15th goal this season as Udinese came from behind to beat champions Inter Milan 3-1 in a noon game.

The Nerazzurri closed a run of four wins since Brazilian coach Leonardo took over in early January and left them fifth-placed, nine points from the top with a game in hand.

“We started off well, but then a very impressive Udinese came on,” Leonardo said. “When they play like this, it is hard for anyone. We are still battling out. The main thing is to be close to the top.”

In Saturday action, captain Francesco Totti, Simone Perrotta and Frenchman Jeremy Menez scored for Roma in a 3-0 defeat of Cagliari that kept the capital side six points behind Milan.

Palermo defeated Brescia 1-0 to keep up their chase of a berth in a European competition next season.

Also Saturday, Parma defeated Catania 2-0 to ease their relegation worries with second-half goals from Antonio Candreva and free-kick specialist Sebastian Giovinco.

The defeat left the Sicily guests and their new Argentine coach Diego Simone three points clear of the drop zone.

Filed under: Soccer

will not be displayed