Villarreal’s Champions League spot chase suffers a blow as they rescue a 2-2 draw in Spain’s Primera Division.
|Gattuso finally enjoys being in the spotlight for all the right reasons [GALLO/GETTY]|
A rare Gennaro Gattuso goal was enough to send leaders AC Milan eight points clear in Italy’s Serie A after they dominated Juventus 1-0 at the Stadio Olimpico in Turin on Saturday.
Gattuso ended a run of more than three years without a goal after the defensive midfielder struck midway through the second half to decide a game in which both sides had struggled to break down one another’s defence.
The goal was welcome relief for Gattuso, who is suspended for Wednesday’s European Champions League clash against English side Tottenham.
The result was Juventus’ third defeat on the trot and leaves them languishing in seventh position, seven points off the Champions League places with only ten matches to go.
“We still have 10 games to go,” Gattuso said.
“It is still a long way and we have to play Inter. We’re leading by eight points, but if Inter wins tomorrow its back to five.”
Milan deserved their victory with Zlatan Ibrahimovic wasting a good early chance while Juve were rarely a threat.
Champions Inter Milan, bossed by last year’s Milan coach Leonardo, can cut the Rossoneri’s advantage back to five points with 10 games left if they beat Genoa at home in Sunday’s main programme of games.
|Results & fixtures|
Saturday March 5
Sunday March 6
Juve’s third defeat in a row leaves coach Luigi Del Neri under huge pressure after a season which was meant to spark a revival for Italy’s best supported and most successful domestic club after last season’s seventh-placed finish.
Juventus had the first shot on goal, after two minutes. Felipe Melo raced forward from central midfield, but the Brazilian slipped as he was shooting and the ball went harmlessly wide.
Milan hit back straight away and Zlatan Ibrahimovic volleyed Mathieu Flamini’s cross over the bar from close in.
Cassano then wasted the best chance in the 23rd when Kevin Prince Boateng picked him out unmarked in the area. He cut inside Armand Traore, but blazed his shot over the bar.
Robinho came on for Boateng at half-time, but the move failed to have any immediate effect.
Eventually though Milan’s greater attacking intent was rewarded. Ibrahimovic headed the ball into Gattuso’s path, he broke away from Andrea Barzagli and fired a low shot past Gianluigi Buffon.
It was the midfielder’s first goal since he scored in the Uefa Cup against Heerenveen in October 2008 and his first in Serie A since the match against Atalanta in January 2008.
Juventus talisman Del Piero came on with just over 10 minutes remaining, but there was little the 36-year-old could do to turn the result in the home team’s favour.
Del Neri hinted his expensive group of players are just not good enough compared to Juve sides of the past with the club still recovering from a 2006 match-fixing demotion.
“At the moment our quality is a lot more inferior to Milan,” he said.
“We must try to play better. If as individuals we are lacking then you need to compensate as a group.”