Inter stay close to leaders Juventus in Serie A
MILAN, Italy (AFP) — Inter Milan maintained their pursuit of Serie A leaders Juventus with a 2-0 win over Catania as Fiorentina lost ground after being held to a 1-1 draw at Chievo yesterday.
Inter's fourth win on the trot came thanks to goals from Antonio Cassano and Argentina international Rodrigo Palacio and leaves Andrea Stramaccioni's side in fourth place only four points behind leaders Juventus.
The Nerazzurri face Juventus away on November 3, and Stramaccioni believes the match — coming after fixtures against Bologna and Sampdoria — could be a turning point for their season.
Although Inter have the league's fourth highest goals tally, Stramaccioni is particularly pleased by the fact his defence has tightened since they leaked three goals in a shock 3-1 home defeat to Roma nearly seven weeks ago.
Juve took sole lead of the title race yesterday when goals from second-half substitutes Juan Caceres and Paul Pogba secured a 2-0 home win over Napoli and left Walter Mazzarri's side in second three points adrift.
Juventus, now on 22 points, remain the only unbeaten team in the league.
Lazio, meanwhile, maintained their early season charge with a 3-2 win over embattled AC Milan that left the Rome-based side in third place four points behind Juve.
AC Milan's fifth defeat in eight games is unlikley to lead to the sacking of coach Massimiliano Allegri, according to Milan officials mindful of the fact he lost the spine of his team during a turbulent summer transfer period.
However, the club has reacted to Saturday's reverse — at one point Lazio were leading 3-0 until goals from Nigel De Jong and Stephan El Shaarawy reduced arrears — by ordering the players to a week-long training camp.
Milan's squad will meet at Montanello outside Milan for training today before flying out to Spain tomorrow for their Champions League Group C fixture against Malaga a day later.
They will then return to Montanello to prepare for Saturday's visit of Genoa, a match which Milan, sixth from bottom on seven points, must win if they are to consider getting back into the title race.
San Siro neightbours Inter have no such problems so far.
In 30 previous encounters Catania had registered only five wins to 21 for their hosts.
And win number 22 looked on the cards when Cassano, who has recently been left on the sidelines by Italy coach Cesare Prandelli, headed the ball between the legs of 'keeper Mariano Andujar to give Inter a 28th minute lead.
Although Diego Milito has yet to score this month, the Argentine striker initiated the move which led to Cassano's goal and provided the assist for Palacio to open his Inter account in the 85th minute.
With five goals in a total of eight matches Stramaccioni is getting a good return on former Milan striker Cassano.
But the Inter handler believes Milito will come good during the season.
Roma are fifth, eight points back, following a comeback 4-2 win at Genoa.