Milan fade as Juve attacked by fans

Rossoneri can only draw 1-1 at home while Juventus players pelted by own fans in Turin.

    Melo appeals to Juventus fans after his goal following the attack on players at their hotel [AFP]

    AC Milan wasted the latest in a series of chances to boost their Serie A title hopes when a depleted side were held 1-1 at home by Lazio – but at least escaped Juventus' fate of being attacked by their own fans.

    Roma beat leaders Inter Milan 2-1 on Saturday to cut the gap at the top to a point but Milan stayed third rather than moving level with the Romans after another unconvincing display.

    Marco Borriello, standing in as penalty taker with Ronaldinho suspended, converted from the spot on 18 minutes but Stephan Lichtsteiner scrambled in the equaliser on 32 minutes.

    Serie A results

    Saturday March 27

     
    Roma 2-1 Inter Milan
     Palermo 3-1 Bologna

    Sunday March 28

     
    Chievo 0-0 Parma
     Fiorentina 4-1 Udinese
     Juventus 2-1 Atalanta
     Livorno 1-1 Bari
     Napoli 1-0 Catania
     Sampdoria 1-1 Cagliari
     Siena 0-0 Genoa
     AC Milan 1-1 Lazio

    Earlier on Sunday, Juventus brushed off an attack on their team bus by their own fans to beat Atalanta 2-1 at Turin's Stadio Olimpico on Sunday and keep alive their hopes of a top-four finish.

    It was one of the fans' betes noires, Brazil defensive midfielder Felipe Melo, who grabbed the winning goal eight minutes from time after coming off the substitutes bench.

    Melo, who has often borne the brunt of supporters' frustrations this season, went on the charm offensive after the game.

    "That was my first goal in Turin and I'm happy that it got us an important victory," he said.

    "I want to dedicate it to my family and the fans."

    It was a rare bright moment for Juve's players in a trying season and on a troubling day that began with them coming under attack.

    Beer bottles and eggs

    The team were boarding the bus at the hotel where they stay before home matches when they came under fire from a hail of beer bottles and eggs.

    Fans, disgruntled at the team's dire form this season, also tried to prevent the bus from leaving and the police had to intervene to allow Juve's players to escape unscathed.

    Before the barrage of missiles, fans had hurled abuse at the team, singling out in particular three players: Italy captain Fabio Cannavaro, French full-back Jonathan Zebina and Melo.

    Sky TV images showed Zebina was slapped on the neck by a man as he went to board the bus.

    But the day ended well as Juve closed to within three points of fourth-placed Palermo with a crucial victory, a fact not lost on coach Alberto Zaccheroni, particularly after two defeats in a row.

    "I expected a reaction and I got one. We really wanted this win and now we have a week off to recharge our batteries ahead of our game against Udinese," he said.

    "We gave everything we had, maybe even more, and we've earned three vital points."

    Given that they still have to travel to AC and Inter Milan before the end of the season, Juve know they must win their home games to stand a chance of earning a spot in next season's European Champions League.

    Evergreen forward Alessandro Del Piero gave them the lead on the half-hour mark with a brilliant trademark free-kick into the top-right corner from 25 yards.

    But on the stroke of half-time former Juve forward Nicola Amoruso equalised after the home side's defence were caught napping by a ball over the top, allowing Amoruso to slip a shot past goalkeeper Alex Manninger.

    Melo saved his teammates from more abuse – they had been met by a wall of silence at kick-off and were roundly jeered following the equaliser – when he met Del Piero's cross at the back post and sent a looping header back across goal and in.

    Having arrived as a major summer signing from Fiorentina, Melo is widely considered by fans to have been the worst of the team's flops this season and he was seen to apologise to the home supporters following his goal.

    Juve are sixth after Napoli beat Catania 1-0 at home thanks to a goal from Paolo Cannavaro, Fabio's younger brother, six minutes into the second period to go fifth.

    Sampdoria's 1-1 draw at home to Cagliari left them in seventh, only behind Juve and Napoli on head-to-head records.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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