x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

European football round-up: Inter squander chance to close gap on Juventus

Pescara coach Giovanni Stroppa quit the club after the side's poor start to the season was compounded by defeat to Siena, while 10-man Atletico Madrid held out for a narrow win over Granada to consolidate second place in the Primera Liga.

Rodrigo Palacio bullets home a header for Inter Milan against Cagliari
Rodrigo Palacio bullets home a header for Inter Milan against Cagliari


Inter Milan missed the chance to take a chunk out of Juventus' lead at the top of the Serie A standings after being held 2-2 at home by mid-table Cagliari.

With Juventus drawing 0-0 with Lazio, second-placed Inter could have moved to within two points of the pacesetters with a victory.

However, they not only failed to win, but they needed an 82nd-minute Davide Astori own goal just to salvage a point after a Marco Sau brace had seen impressive Cagliari bounce back from an early deficit to take the lead.

Inter had seen their six-match Serie A winning streak ended by last week's 3-2 loss at Atalanta and their hopes of getting back on track today looked good when Rodrigo Palacio headed them in front after just 10 minutes.

But that was before Sau's double and Astori's late intervention.

Giovanni Stroppa, the Pescara head coach, resigned in the aftermath of their 1-0 Serie A defeat at Siena.

The Abruzzo outfit had two men sent off after Francesco Valiani scored the only goal of the game to condemn promoted Pescara to their eighth defeat of the season.

The club said in a statement: "At the end of the game, Giovanni Stroppa handed his resignation from his position of head coach at Pescara to president Daniele Sebastiani and director of sport (Daniele) Delli Carri."

Following Stroppa's departure, Delli Carri told Gazzetta.it: "Stroppa has decided to resign and we have accepted his decision.

"We didn't see this decision coming, especially seeing as I said before the game that we would not change the coach even if we lost today.

"The responsibility for this defeat lies with both the coaches and the players.

"Now we have to reflect and analyse the situation, but it's too early to name names."

Former Italy midfielder Stroppa replaced veteran coach Zdenek Zeman at the Stadio Adriatico in June as the Czech tactician accepted the role of head coach at Roma.

Alberto Aquilani scored twice and set up another as in-form Fiorentina brushed aside 10-man Atalanta 4-1 to record their fifth successive victory.

Aquilani took centre-stage after Atalanta's Giacomo Bonaventura had cancelled out Gonzalo Rodriguez's early opener for Fiorentina.

The ex-Liverpool man put the Viola in control with two goals with Atalanta also having Luca Cigarini sent off in between.

Aquilani then turned provider at the start of the second half with a cross that Luca Toni headed home.

Bologna picked up three vital points by beating Palermo 3-0 in a relegation scrap which included four red cards.

Alberto Gilardino put Stefano Pioli's side in front with Manolo Gabbiadini making it two from the penalty spot.

Another penalty scored by Alessandro Diamanti early in the second half completed the scoring, but the referee's work was only just beginning as he first sent of Samir Ujkani for giving away the spot-kick.

He was followed by Edgar Barreto, Saphir Taider and Carlos Labrin, in chronological order, with Bologna ending the game with 10 men and three points and Palermo finishing with eight and zero.

Raffaele Palladino ensured Parma would return home with a precious point from a 2-2 draw at Udinese.

Antonio Di Natale made it eight Serie A goals for the season before Marco Marchionni scored.

Roberto Pereyra nudged Udinese ahead once again but Palladino ensured it finished 2-2.

Sergio Almiron's second-half double earned Catania a 2-1 win over Chievo at the Stadio Angelo Massimino.

Almiron opened the scoring six minutes into the second half and curled home a crucial second goal five minutes from time before Marco Andreolli's stoppage-time consolation.

The bragging rights are back with Sampdoria for the first time since 2010 as Mauro Icardi's late strike sealed a 3-1 victory over Genoa in the Derby della Lanterna.

Andrea Poli certainly lightened the load on Ciro Ferrara, the Sampdoria manager, with a fine opener before Genoa's Cesare Bovo gifted the Blucerchiati a 2-0 lead in comical fashion with an own goal.

A much improved Genoa hit back through Ciro Immobile after the break, but Icardi ensured an uncertain future for Grifone boss Luigi Del Neri with his strike at the death.



Atletico Madrid survived the second-half dismissal of defender Mario Suarez to win 1-0 at Granada and consolidate second place in the Primera Division.

A goal from Arda Turan settled the game for the visitors who were forced to hold on after Suarez's dismissal.

Suarez was given his marching orders for a second bookable offence after handling the ball, leaving his teammates to see out the last 20 minutes with only 10 men.

Atletico, who cut the gap on Primera Division leaders Barcelona to three points with the win, were already a goal ahead by then as Turan finished off Jorge Koko's cross.

Levante climbed to fourth as goals from Obafemi Martins and Jose Barkero handed them a 2-0 victory over Deportivo la Coruna at La Riazor.

Martins opened the scoring five minutes before half-time with his fifth goal in eight games since joining Los Granotes, but the hosts were given a great chance to get back into the game when Pedro Lopez was shown a second yellow card for handling inside his own area 10 minutes into the second half.

Riki blasted the resulting penalty over the bar and, after the numbers had been evened up as Depor goalkeeper Daniel Aranzubia was also sent off for a second bookable offence, Barkero wrapped things up for the visitors with a long-range effort.

Jose Antonio Reyes and Federico Fazio both scored first-half braces as Sevilla put their recent bad form behind them with a stunning 5-1 victory over city rivals Real Betis.

The pressure was on Michel's side to produce the goods tonight after a recent slump in results and they never looked back after taking the lead in the opening seconds through Reyes.

They were two up inside five minutes thanks to Fazio and further first-half goals from the pair ended the match as a contest.

Betis' evening was compounded when Ruben Perez was dismissed for a second bookable offence and although they did claim a consolation of sorts through Ruben Castro's strike, Ivan Rakitic sealed a sensational win for Sevilla in injury time.

Mallorca ended a run of six consecutive league defeats by earning a valuable point in a 1-1 draw at Celta Vigo.

Tomer Hemed put the visitors in front with his seventh goal of the season but Celta should have been level by half-time as Augusto Fernandez passed up two glorious opportunities to equalise.

Park Chu-young did eventually level for the hosts with a simple finish from a wonderful cross by Iago Aspas, but it was Mallorca who came closest to a winner as Hemed was only denied his second of the game by a brilliant save from Javi Varas.

Two goals in four minutes from Alexis and Angel Lafita saw Getafe come from behind to beat Valladolid 2-1 and move into the top half of the table.

Oscar Gonzalez's sixth goal of the season had put Valladolid ahead just before the break but after Omar Ramos came within inches of doubling the lead with a shot that smacked off the underside off the bar, Getafe rallied to score twice in the final 16 minutes.

Alexis headed home at the back post from Pedro Leon's corner before Lafita found some space inside the area and curled a beautiful finish high past Dani Gimenez into the top



Lyon moved top of Ligue 1 with a 3-0 victory over Reims at the Stade Gerland.

Anthony Weber's own goal on the stroke of half-time set Les Gones on their way, and Bafetimbi Gomis doubled the hosts' advantage in the 73rd minute before Lisandro Lopez sealed matters at the death.

The result lifted Remi Garde's team a point clear of Bordeaux who moved up to second by beating fellow high-fliers Marseille.

Yoann Gouffran scored the only goal eight minutes into the second half to see off a Marseille side who finished with 10 men following the dismissal of Lucas Mendes for a last-minute professional foul.

Dario Cvitanich's second-half goal earned Nice all three points at home to a Toulouse side who continue to slide down the standings.

Cvitanich's 60th-minute effort proved the difference between the two and earned Nice a deserved win, although Toulouse will feel slightly unfortunate after hitting the woodwork twice, the second occasion coming three minutes from the end.

The result lifts improving Nice into 11th place while Toulouse, who were in the top two not so long ago, are now down to ninth after slumping to a third successive league defeat and fourth on the trot in all competitions.



Wolfsburg climbed out of the bottom three of the Bundesliga with a 3-1 victory at Hoffenheim as new management duo Lorenz-Gunther Kostner and Klaus Allofs enjoyed a winning start to life on the Wolves bench.

Makoto Hasebe, Bas Dost and Naldo each found the back of the net to put the 2009 German champions comfortably clear before Eren Derdiyok netted a late consolation for hosts Hoffenheim.

New director of sport Allofs was taking his place next to caretaker-coach Kostner for the first time since arriving from Werder Bremen during the week.

Allofs' former club Bremen were also victorious today as they battled back from a goal down to beat Fortuna Düsseldorf 2-1.

Jens Langeneke put Fortuna ahead from the penalty spot in the 11th minute, but goals from Nils Petersen and Kevin de Bruyne earned Bremen all three points at the Weser Stadion to take them up to seventh.

Schaaf was alone on the Bremen bench for the first time in 13 years after the departure of his right-hand man Allofs.



Twente lost ground on Eredivisie leaders PSV after being held to a 1-1 draw by Utrecht.

The second-placed side got off to the best possible start when Willem Janssen gave them the lead after just two minutes with his second league goal of the season.

However, sixth-placed Utrecht bounced back relatively quickly and Jacob Mulenga equalised 15 minutes later, scoring for the third successive match.

Vitesse closed to within two points of Twente after an eventful 4-1 home win over NEC, who finished the match with eight men after three red cards.

The visitors took the lead after three minutes through Melvin Platje but Wilfried Bony quickly equalised before NEC had Victor Palsson sent off just before half-time for a second bookable offence.

Guram Kashia put Vitesse in front moments after the interval and after Bony added his second 10 minutes from the end NEC fell apart as Remy Amieux became the second player to be dismissed for a second yellow card before Ryan Koolwijk walked for a straight red.

Substitute Mike Havenaar wrapped up the scoring three minutes from time.

Feyenoord also moved closer to second-placed Twente with a comfortable 3-0 win at home to bottom side Willem II.

Lex Immers gave the hosts a 33rd-minute lead but they did not press home their advantage until after the break when Graziano Pelle scored twice in six minutes to take his tally to eight in the last five games.

Heracles ran out 5-1 winners against 10-man Roda with Lerin Duarte (two), Willy Overtoom, Geoffrey Castillion and Samuel Armenteros all on target for the hosts.

Sanharib Malki had briefly made it 1-1 late in the first half for Roda before the dismissal of goalkeeper Filip Kurto, with the score at 2-1, swung the match.



Motherwell jumped to fourth in the Scottish Premier League after a thumping 5-1 away victory over in-form Inverness.

The hosts had not lost in 10 games in all competitions since they last faced the Steelmen in September, when Motherwell romped to a 4-1 victory.

Michael Higdon opened the scoring for the visitors in the 17th minute, with Jamie Murphy doubling the lead four minutes later.

Inverness captain Richie Foran netted three minutes after the restart to reduce the deficit but Adam Cummins' first senior goal restored Well's two-goal cushion.

Henrik Ojamaa added a fourth in the 72nd minute and substitute Omar Daley completed the rout with a minute to go, condemning Inverness to their heaviest home defeat of the campaign so far.