Marcelo Zalayeta, the Uruguayan striker, capitalised on an early blunder by the Internazionale goalkeeper, Julio Cesar, as Napoli ended the leaders' unbeaten record in Serie A with a 1-0 win in Naples last night. Zalayeta chipped the ball into an empty net in the third minute after Cesar horribly misplaced an attempted clearance from a backpass. It could have been worse for Inter but Zalayeta failed from the penalty spot 15 minutes from time, with Cesar saving.
The defeat came in their 26th match of the campaign, but Inter still have a six-point lead over Roma, who are on 55 points also from 26 games after thrashing Parma 4-0 on Saturday. Earlier yesterday, Fiorentina defeated the third-placed team, Juventus, 3-2 to move within a point of the Turin side.
"We aren't going through an exceptional period of form, in part because we have lost lots of players [through injury] at the same time," Roberto Mancini, the Inter coach, said. "It can happen that you lose a match or you don't play well. But six points are six points. We'll see what happens next week."
Clarence Seedorf, the midfield player, is doubtful for Milan's Uefa Champions League match against Arsenal tomorrow after suffering a hamstring injury. The Dutchman limped out of Saturday's clash with Lazio and Carlo Ancelotti, the Milan coach, says Seedorf is unlikely to feature in the second leg of this last-16 tie.
"My intention is to see who is well and pick my team based on who is available," Ancelotti said. "We will have to see how things go in the next few days, but I think it is unlikely that Seedorf will recover."
Milan have already lost the Brazilian playmaker, Kaka, to injury, while Emerson had to be replaced at half-time of the 1-1 draw with Lazio as Ancelotti's injury problems deepened.
Lazio took the initiative after the break and the Milan goalkeeper, Zeljko Kalac, denied Goran Pandev and Tommaso Rocchi twice. The visitors went ahead in the 54th when Bianchi tucked away a pass from Rocchi to score. The former Lazio full back, Massimo Oddo, equalised in the 66th after Valon Behrami brought down Kakha Kaladze in the penalty area. Lorenzo de Silvestri, the Lazio defender, was sent off in the closing stages for cutting down Pato.
Roma defeated Parma 4-0 at home on Saturday. Goals by Alberto Aquilani, Francesco Totti and Mirko Vucinic, plus an own goal by Giulio Falcone, ensured what was a routine victory. It was a good preparation for the Champions League match on Wednesday against Real Madrid. Roma lead 2-1 from the first leg.
In Paris, Manchester United's opponents for tonight's second-leg Champions League match, Olympique Lyons, opened a six-point lead in Ligue 1 when a first-half goal by Fred earned a 1-0 victory against Lille on Saturday. The game, played at the Stade de France as part of the celebrations to mark the ground's 10th anniversary, broke the Ligue 1 attendance record with a crowd of 77,850.
Olympiakos, Chelsea's opponents in the Champions League at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday, fought out a 1-1 draw at home to Asteras Tripoli on Saturday.