Milan open four-point lead in Italy

AC Milan extend their Serie A advantage with victory over Lecce as Juve are held to a fourth draw in a row.

    Milan bounced back from their mid-week Champions League loss to Arsenal with victory against Lecce [GETTY]

    AC Milan extended their lead to four points at the top of Italy’s Serie A with a 2-0 win over Lecce as Juventus were held 0-0 at Genoa on Sunday.

    Goals from Antonio Nocerino and Zlatan Ibrahimovic gave Milan a comfortable victory.

    Juve, who were facing a defensive selection crisis, drew for the fourth game in a row and sixth time in their last seven outings although they hit the woodwork three times on Sunday.

    Although unbeaten, they have now drawn more than half their league matches this season. And that is what has allowed champions Milan to not only haul them in but streak past as they bid for a second title in a row.

    Close call

    Milan coach Massimiliano Allegri insisted nothing was decided despite their lead.

    "It's not a decisive step but it is an important one because we won while Juve didn't," he said.

    "We still need consistency and balance because I remember in Udine (where they won 2-1), with a quarter of an hour left, we were practically out of the title running.

    "Now we have a one-match advantage, but there are still 11 games left. We had a very good first 20 minutes. Everything seemed so easy, but then we started giving away a lot of balls. Things went better in the second half."

    The Rossoneri never looked in any danger of dropping points against Lecce and took the lead after just seven minutes.

    Robinho chipped the ball into the box and Ibrahimovic's back-heel flick found Nocerino, whose volleyed finish deflected off Leonardo Miglionico and beat goalkeeper Massimiliano Benassi.

    Milan created plenty of shooting chances around the box but produced nothing to unduly worry Benassi.

    But they moved further in front on 65 minutes as another Robinho chip into the box found Urby Emanuelson, whose cushioned headed back to Ibrahimovic was lashed ruthlessly into the net.

    Lecce remain third from bottom and are now six points from safety following Siena's 2-0 win at Cesena and Parma's 1-1 draw at Atalanta.

    Slow start

    Juventus, who refused to talk to the press after the game, may have been missing all three of their Italy centre-backs but they showed few ill effects as they dominated in Genoa.

    After a quiet first half Juve came storming out after the break and hit the woodwork three times in the first 15 minutes of the second period.

    Mirko Vucincic headed an Andrea Pirlo corner against the bar before Pirlo had a fizzing shot tipped just over.

    Results

    Friday March 9

    Chievo 0-2 Inter Milan
    Napoli 6-3 Cagliari 

    Saturday March 10

    Palermo 0-1 Roma

    Sunday March 11

    AC Milan 2-0 Lecce
    Atalanta 1-1 Parma
    Catania 1-0 Fiorentina
    Cesena 0-2 Siena
    Genoa 0-0 Juventus
    Lazio 1-3 Bologna 
    Novara 1-0 Udinese

    Vucinic then headed against the outside of the post from Simone Pepe's cross before Pepe ran onto a Pirlo free-kick and from six yards hit a side-foot volley smack onto the post.

    Genoa finally eased the pressure and created a chance of their own but Gianluigi Buffon stood up well to Kakha Kaladze's back-post volley.

    Juve finally had the ball in the net through Pepe who this time found the goal from three yards out, but it was ruled out for a narrow offside.

    Alberto Gilardino was played in behind the Juve defence and took the ball around Buffon but from a tight angle he fired well off target.

    And Pirlo appeared to bring down Marco Rossi in the box in injury time but Juve were relieved to see nothing given.

    Their only saving grace was that the two teams nearest to them failed to capitalise on their slip.

    Third-placed Lazio are now five points behind after they lost 3-1 at home to Bologna, finishing the game with nine men as both Francesco Matuzalem and Alvaro Gonzalez were sent off.

    Daniele Portanova, Alessandro Diamanti and Rene Krhim scored Bologna's goals while Lazio's reply came through a Matteo Rubin own goal.

    Udinese dropped below Napoli on goal difference to fifth as they lost 1-0 at Novara, who moved off the bottom but are still 11 points from safety.

    Brazilian Jeda scored the only goal of the game but Maurizio Domizzi had what appeared to be a valid goal for the visitors disallowed in the second half.

    SOURCE: AFP


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