ITALY – Juventus bounded to the top of Serie A by securing a battling 2-0 victory at Palermo after former striker Amauri condemned AC Milan to a 2-1 defeat at home to Fiorentina on Saturday.
Juve defender Leonardo Bonucci headed in ex-Milan playmaker Andrea Pirlo’s corner after 56 minutes and Fabio Quagliarella netted an angled drive to put the Turin side a point ahead of the champions with seven games left.
Milan meekly surrendered top spot after a late goal by Fiorentina substitute Amauri, who flopped at Juve during their wilderness years after a 2006 match-fixing demotion, gave the lowly outfit the points at a scorching San Siro.
The Rossoneri fell apart having gone ahead through Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s 31st-minute penalty after a foul on strike partner Maxi Lopez, who later hit the post.
Milan, who drew at Catania last weekend and were eliminated from the Champions League by Barcelona in midweek, were pegged back by Stevan Jovetic’s goal on the break in the 47th and a Philippe Mexes mistake allowed Amauri to net the 89th-minute winner.
Not even the late substitute appearance of Antonio Cassano, out for five months after a heart problem, could inspire Milan.
“We’ll have to react with the personality of a great team because nothing is lost,” Milan coach Massimiliano Allegri told reporters.
“It was a difficult game because of fatigue, the state of the pitch and because Fiorentina did well. It’s the first time we’ve played in the afternoon for a long time, it was quite hot today as well and the ball
Sixth-placed AS Roma suffered a major blow in the race for third and a Champions League qualifying round berth when they lost 4-2 at third-bottom Lecce for whom Luis Muriel and David Di Michele scored twice.
Udinese moved joint-third with Lazio, who host rivals Napoli later on Saturday (1900 GMT), after a 3-1 home win over Parma while Inter Milan’s slim hopes of third were hit by a 2-2 draw with Cagliari in Andrea Stramaccioni’s second game in charge.
The match was played in the north-eastern city of Trieste because of problems with the Sardinians’ stadium but Cagliari still felt at home and went ahead after five minutes through Davide Astori.
Inter’s Diego Milito replied immediately only for Mauricio Pinilla to put the hosts back on top just past the hour before being sent off for a second booking after excessive celebrating.
Argentine midfielder Esteban Cambiasso soon levelled for 2010 European Cup winners Inter but their chances of Champions League football next term are hanging by a thread as the seventh-placed side lie six points behind Lazio.
Europa League soccer may even be beyond them given that they sit two points behind Roma who are in the final berth.
Bottom side Cesena were held 0-0 by local rivals Bologna to all but ended their chances of survival while second-bottom Novara drew 1-1 with Genoa, back with Alberto Malesani as coach.
European hopefuls Catania lost 3-2 at Chievo while mid-table Siena won 2-1 at Atalanta.-Reuters