Udinese leapfrog troubled giants AC Milan

March 31st, 2008 - 2:07 pm ICT by admin  

Milan, March 31 (DPA) Udinese beat visiting Fiorentina 3-1 to move up to fifth in football’s Italian Serie A and leapfrog struggling giants AC Milan. Milan had a rough Sunday at home as Andrea Pirlo squandered a late spot kick, allowing Atalanta to win a Lombardy derby 2-1 through first-half goals from Sergio Floccari and Antonio Langella.

Veteran captain Paolo Maldini pulled one back with a header five minutes from time, but Milan had to concede a fourth home defeat as Ferdinando Coppola blocked Pirlo’s penalty.

With seven games left, the Devils are struggling to secure a slot for the Champions League, which they won last year. AC Milan are now four points behind Fiorentina, who occupy the last of four berths into the continental tournament.

“There are more critiques for Milan today,” coach Carlo Ancelotti said. “We made the usual mistakes of previous home games. We had a slow start and not enough grit. The game was difficult, and it turned out the same as with Sampdoria (who won 2-1 in Milan).”

Leaders Inter Milan, on 69 points, and second-place Roma remained four points apart Saturday after playing out 1-1 draws in their respective games with Lazio and Cagliari, while third-place Juventus and Parma had their Sunday game postponed due to the death of a Parma fan.

In Udine, Swiss midfielder Gokhan Inler drilled a loose ball under the bar from outside the area for Udinese’s lead on 13 minutes, while a drive from Riccardo Montolivo against the post was the best first-half chance for Fiorentina.

The Florence guests risked right after the break as Antonio Di Natale made an incredible blunder before the gaping goal, and Fabio Quagliarella came close when Frenchman Sebastien Frey deflected his drive on 52 minutes.

Udinese’s Slovenian custodian Samir Handanovic made great saves on efforts from Pablo Osvaldo and Giampaolo Pazzini before the just-fielded veteran Christian Vieri levelled with a 63rd-minute header.

Fiorentina’s hopes for a comeback vanished in five minutes as ruthless strikers Di Natale and Quagliarella secured Udinese’s win with 12 minutes left.

Sampdoria won 2-0 at bottom side Empoli, while Genoa beat lowly Reggina 2-0 with league top striker Marco Borriello opening the scoring for an 18-goal tally.

Torino won 2-1 at Catania, Livorno and Siena drew 0-0 in a Tuscany derby, and Napoli edged Palermo 1-0 Sunday night through a late header from Slovak Marek Hamsik.

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