Football: Palermo prolong pain for Juventus

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The Independent Online
JUVENTUS SUFFERED their second consecutive defeat when they lost 1-0 away to Palermo on Saturday. The Serie A leaders dominated possession but were undone by poor finishing and some aggressive defending from the home side.

Palermo took the lead in the 12th minute when the Juve goalkeeper, Gianluigi Buffon, came forward to punch away a free-kick, leaving himself out of position and powerless to prevent Franco Brienza shooting past him from the edge of the area.

Juventus, who had lost 1-0 to Sampdoria in mid-week, dominated possession in the second half as they had in the first. Zlatan Ibrahimovic had a shot cleared off the line while Gianluca Zambrotta fired over the bar. But Palermo remained dangerous on the break and almost doubled their advantage when Alberto Santana was played through on goal and lobbed Buffon only for the ball to bounce narrowly wide.

Also on Saturday, Sampdoria went fourth after a 3-0 win over Fiorentina, who played for 80 minutes with nine men following the sendings-off of Valeri Bojinov and Daniele Delli Carri in the eighth and 10th minutes.

Internazionale preserved their unbeaten Serie A record in dramatic fashion yesterday, fighting back from two goals down to draw 2-2 at Parma, despite the 35th-minute dismissal of defender Marco Materazzi. The result, however, could not save them from surrendering third place to Udinese, who climbed to 40 points after a 1-0 victory over lowly Brescia.

Inter began aggressively with Juan Sebastian Veron twice firing narrowly wide in the opening minutes. The balance of the match swung in the 14th minute, when a Parma counter-attack ended with the striker Mark Bresciano crashing the ball off the bar. That signalled the start of a period of pressure by the home side culminating 20 minutes later when Materazzi stuck out a hand to prevent a Bresciano shot crossing the line, earning himself a red card. The ensuing Parma penalty was converted by Fabio Simplicio.

Inter fell further behind when the Italy international Alberto Gilardino beat the goalkeeper Hector Carini with a superb overhead kick on the hour. But as in other memorable comebacks this season against Juventus and Sampdoria, Inter refused to buckle.

They were rewarded in the 76th minute when the defender Ivan Cordoba nodded a Sinisa Mihajlovic free-kick past the Parma goalkeeper, Sebastien Frey. And five minutes after that Cordoba was awarded a penalty after being pushed to the ground by Daniele Bonera. Christian Vieri's conversion, his 100th Serie A goal for Inter, consolidated Inter's reputation as the league's comeback kings.