Tue, Oct 23, 2007 - Page 19 News List

Del Piero secures important Serie A win for the Zebras

AFP , ROME

Veteran talisman Alessandro Del Piero scored 10 minutes from half-time to give Juventus a vital 1-0 victory over Genoa on Sunday and three points that keeps them hot on the tails of leaders Inter Milan.

They now trail the reigning champions by just three points, having moved back above Fiorentina into second place after the Viola's dazzling 3-0 victory over Siena in the Tuscan derby earlier in the day had briefly propelled them into second.

However it was a miserable day for European Champions AC Milan who lost 1-0 at home to Empoli and have now slipped to 10 points off the pace set by champions and bitter city rivals Inter, who won 1-0 at Reggina on Saturday.

Del Piero had signed a new contract extension until 2010 earlier in the week and he settled the affair with a crisp right foot volley from 6m following a cross from fellow veteran Pavel Nedved.

The Czech midfielder was later sent off, though, after the final whistle for appearing to elbow Abdoulay Konko while coach Claudio Ranieri was also shown red for swearing at the match officials.

Alongside Inter, Fiorentina remain the only unbeaten team left in the league and it was a spectacular goal from Giampaolo Pazzini that set them on their way after a quarter of an hour.

Franco Semioli sent the ball to Pazzini who chested it down and thrashed home a stunning volley from the edge of the area in almost a single movement.

Just after the half-hour mark, Romanian international striker Adrian Mutu doubled the home side's advantage after Pazzini backhealed the ball into his path.

Siena have never won this fixture in the top flight and this match was to be no different with veteran former Italy striker Christian Vieri adding the third on 71 minutes having replaced Pazzini.

"We got off to a good start, kept the team tight and avoided long balls. Giampaolo Pazzini plays with great determination and gave the side depth," coach Cesare Prandelli said. "Are we in the title race? We just want to keep up this kind of performance."

In Milan the hosts' dreadful home form continued with this surprise defeat. Milan had already drawn three matches at the San Siro before losing there for the first time this season.

Hot on the heels of their 5-1 demolition of Lazio in Rome last week, this was a case of coming back down to earth with more than just a bump for Carlo Ancelotti's men.

Luca Saudati scored the winner 10 minutes after the break and at the full-time whistle the Rossneri were booed off the pitch.

Ancelotti said afterwards that he would confront his team over their poor home record.

"On Monday I will confront the squad," he said. "On home turf we have managed just three points in four games. That is a negative result and we have seen far too much difference between the way we play at home and away."

The coach also paid for his decision to leave Brazilian playmaker Kaka out of the weekend match squad, saving him for the Champions League clash with Shakhtar Donetsk in midweek.

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