Crespo puts Milan in touch at the top

Gordon Tynan
Monday 07 February 2005 01:00 GMT

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Louise Thomas

Louise Thomas


Manchester United's Champions League opponents Milan moved to within two points of Serie A leaders Juventus last night thanks to a last-gasp winner from on-loan Chelsea striker Hernan Crespo against Lazio.

Crespo hit the winner in a 2-1 victory against the club he once joined for a world-record fee to complete the comeback for the defending champions which was started by a brilliant free-kick from substitute Andriy Shevchenko.

Massimo Oddo had earlier given the visitors the lead with a penalty but Crespo's late goal ensured that Juve's lead has dwindled from eight points to two in four days.

A 1-0 defeat at Palermo on Saturday - the second reverse in four days for Juventus - had given both Milan clubs the chance to make ground on the leaders from Turin. Milan grabbed the chance but, once again Internazionale, the only undefeated side in the league, failed to take the opportunity.

In Palermo, Juventus 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 midweek, 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 Juve could not equalise.

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

Internazionale fought 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. Materazzi was sent off for handball - the ensuing Parma penalty was converted by Fabio Simplicio. Inter fell further behind when Alberto Gilardino scored a superb overhead kick. But Inter refused to buckle. They were rewarded in the 76th minute when the defender Ivan Cordoba nodded in a Sinisa Mihajlovic free-kick. Cordoba was then awarded a penalty and Christian Vieri converted - his 100th Serie A goal for Inter.

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