Tue, Apr 07, 2009 - Page 18 News List

LEGA CALCIO: Own-goal hands Inter nine-point lead

NOT OVER YET After Juve were held by Chievo in Turin, Inter were left with a big lead at the top of Serie A, but coach Jose Mourinho insisted the title race isn’t over

AFP , ROME

Inter’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic, right, vies for the ball with Udinese’s Simone Pepe during their Serie A match at the Friuli Stadium in Udine, Italy, on Sunday.

PHOTO: AP

A disastrous own-goal from Mauricio Isla handed Inter a 1-0 victory at Udinese on Sunday and a nine-point lead atop Serie A as Juventus were held at home. But Inter coach Jose Mourinho, whose team face Juventus in two weeks’ time in what could be a title decider, insists the race is not over with eight games still to play.

“We know that nine points with eight matches left is a big lead,” Mourinho said. “We’re more comfortable and there’s a little bit more pressure on Juve. Of course, they’re not happy because they’ve dropped two points at home. We didn’t win the title tonight, we know that we need 15 points more which means five wins, which we should be able to achieve.”

The victory was handed to Inter by Isla’s horrendous error with 13 minutes left. As he ran back toward his own goal he ran onto the ball as France captain Patrick Vieira took it around goalkeeper Emanuele Benardi, inadvertently knocking it into his own net.

It had been a game of few chances, although after the break Gokhan Inler fired a shot just past the upright and Julio Cesar tipped a Fabio Quagliarella effort onto the roof of the net as the hosts pressed. At the other end Dejan Stankovic slid onto a teasing right-wing cross from Zlatan Ibrahimovic, but saw his poke trickle just wide.

Second-placed Juventus’ hopes suffered a huge blow as a Sergio Pellissier hat-trick earned Chievo a 3-3 draw in a thrilling match in Turin.

Vincenzo Iaquinta’s strike 11 minutes from time seemed to have earned Juventus a vital victory, but Pellissier struck his third in injury-time to earn Chievo their first ever point away to Juve. For Chievo it continued their remarkable recent run that has seen them lose only once since the turn of the year, having ended last year four points adrift at the bottom.

“Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine I would score a hat-trick away at Juventus,” Pellissier said.

Pellissier’s first two goals were similar as the visitors split Juve’s fragile defense with long balls forward from the right, allowing Pellissier to gallop through on goal. Both times he got between center-backs Giorgio Chiellini and Olof Mellberg, taking the ball around Gianluigi Buffon on 25 minutes and shooting across the goalkeeper on 44 minutes.

In between, Chiellini had restored parity on 34 minutes with a thrashed left-foot volley, although Mauro Camoranesi’s flick in the build up to set up the big defender was exquisite. Camoranesi created all three Juve goals with the Argentine-born Italy midfielder’s header back across goal on 53 minutes coming off three Chievo defenders before trickling over the line without a Juve forward in touching distance.

Eleven minutes from time Camoranesi crossed to the back post where Iaquinta continued his recent goalscoring run by heading back across Stefano Sorrentino. But Chievo snatched a well-deserved point at the death as Pellissier met Antonio Langella’s deep cross at the back post with a firm header.

In the day’s late game, AC Milan scored two injury-time goals to beat lowly Lecce 2-0 and keep their grip on third place.

On-loan Arsenal center-back Philippe Senderos sent a header goalward from Andrea Pirlo’s free-kick and the ball deflected off Ronaldinho’s head for the opener. Then moments later, Andrei Shevchenko crossed for Filippo Inzaghi to notch the second.

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