Juve’s Pirlo denies Genoa with free-kick, Milan’s crisis deepens with Parma loss


Tue, Mar 18, 2014 - Page 19

Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon saved a penalty and Andrea Pirlo curled in a trademark free-kick late in the game to give the Serie A leaders a dramatic 1-0 win at Genoa on Sunday.

Juve seemed at risk of missing out on the points after forward Pablo Daniel Osvaldo had two first-half goals disallowed for offside, with television replays suggesting that the first decision was correct and the second was not.

Buffon, equaling Dino Zoff’s record of 476 appearances for the Bianconeri, rescued the visitors when he saved Emanuele Calaio’s penalty in the 72nd minute after a handball by Arturo Vidal.

There was an air of inevitability about the outcome when Juventus won a free-kick on the edge of the area with two minutes left and, sure enough, Pirlo curled a trademark effort over the wall and into the top corner.

Juventus, who have 75 points from 28 games and are almost certain to win their third successive title, are 17 clear of AS Roma who were to host Udinese yesterday, when third-placed SSC Napoli were to visit Torino.

Elsewhere in Serie A, Germany forward Mario Gomez scored for the second match running to help ACF Fiorentina beat AC Chievo Verona 3-1.

David Pizarro missed a penalty for Fiorentina, but it did not matter as Juan Cuadrado, Alessandro Matri and Gomez, back in action after a knee injury, were on target against lowly Chievo, who replied through Alberto Paloschi.

Sunday saw AC Milan’s crisis deepen when they lost 4-2 at home to Parma after playing almost the entire match with 10 men.

It was Milan’s fourth consecutive defeat in all competitions and the second time in a week that they have conceded four goals in a game.

The Rossoneri, who had goalkeeper Christian Abbiati sent off in the fifth minute, came to life as they clawed back a 2-0 deficit, only for Parma forwards Amauri and Jonathan Biabiany to win the game with late goals.

Milan, who were knocked out of the Champions League after an emphatic 4-1 defeat by Atletico Madrid, are stuck in 12th place with 35 points from 28 games after their 11th league defeat of a miserable campaign.

It quickly got worse for the Serie A giants when goalkeeper Abbiati clattered into Ezequiel Schelotto and suffered the so-called triple punishment of penalty, red card and automatic one-match suspension.

Midfielder Michael Essien was sacrificed to make way for substitute goalkeeper Marco Amelia, whose first job was to pick the ball out the back of the net as former Milan player Antonio Cassano fired home the penalty.

It seemed to be all over for the hosts when Cassano was given too much space and added a second six minutes after halftime, but Roberto Donadoni’s team then relaxed.

Adil Rami headed one back from a corner five minutes later, before Balotelli levelled with a 76th-minute penalty that was harshly awarded after Riccardo Montolivo went down under Joel Obi’s challenge.

A heroic draw or even a win was on the cards for Milan, but the night quickly turned to disaster when Schelotto fired over a low cross from the right, Amauri got in front of Nigel de Jong and brilliantly flicked the ball in with his heel.

Milan finished dispirited and demoralized, leaving the pitch to a howl of protests from the San Siro crow after Biabiany headed the fourth in the last move of the game.

Meanwhile, SS Lazio, whose fans are furious with club president Claudio Lotito over a lack of investment in the team, eased their problems with a 2-0 win at Cagliari courtesy of goals by Senad Lulic and teenager Keita Balde to climb to seventh on 41 points.

In Sunday’s other games, UC Sampdoria’s revival was abruptly halted with a 3-0 loss at Atalanta BC, AS Livorno’s 2-1 win over Bologna pulled them out of the relegation zone and US Sassuolo came from behind to beat Catania 3-1 in the meeting of the bottom two.

Sassuolo’s victory lifted them off the bottom to 19th with 21 points, where they were replaced by Catania who have 20 points, while Bologna’s defeat dropped them into the bottom three below Livorno and Chievo.