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Serie A Review: Inter and Juve draw while Roma gains ground

Roma-fansMauro Icardi earned Inter Milan a point from the Derby d’Italia but the 1-1 draw leaves Juventus vulnerable to predators in the Serie A title race.

I Bianconeri had earlier watched Roma draw level with them at the top of the table following a victory at Udinese and set about making amends through Carlos Tevez and his early goal in Turin. But Inter grew into the game after the break and might even have built on Icardi’s equaliser had Mateo Kovacic’s dismissal not upset their rhythm in what were frantic final exchanges. The point gave the Bianconeri control of first place for the time being but rivals Roma show no signs of easing off in their quest to win a first Scudetto since 2001.

Roma had edged Udinese 1-0 at the Stadio Friuli to match Juve at the top for a few hours. Davide Astori headed in the only goal of the game, with the Roma defender’s effort hitting the crossbar and ruled to have fallen inside the line before bouncing out.

Napoli followed up their Supercoppa victory over Juve with a convincing 4-1 win over bottom side Cesena at the Stadio Dino Manuzzi. Rafael Benitez guided his side to a penalty shoot-out triumph over the reigning champions shortly before Christmas and on their return to league action they were dominant.

Goals from Jose Callejon and Gonzalo Higuain put Cesena under the cosh and, after the break, they were unable to resist as Marek Hamsik hit a third before Higuain converted his second. Cesena, who are seven points shy of safety, did pull a goal back through Franco Brienza.

Sassuolo soar at San Siro
AC Milan were handed a stark reminder of how much work they still have to do after Sassuolo claimed a famous 2-1 victory at San Siro. Filippo Inzaghi’s men are targeting the European places and Andrea Poli put them on the right track in the early exchanges.

But Sassuolo fought back, with goals from Gianluca Sansone and Simone Zaza turning the game around. The surprise result leaves Milan in seventh place while Sassuolo climb into the top half.

Gianfranco Zola endured a difficult start to life as the new coach of Cagliari in the shape of a 5-0 defeat at Palermo. Cagliari, who lost captain Daniele Conti to a first-half red card, trailed 3-0 at half-time thanks to goals from Michel Morganella, Ezequiel Munoz and Paulo Dybala. Dybala struck his second of the afternoon before Edgar Barreto capped a wonderful start to 2015 for the Sicilian club by scoring his team’s fifth.

Parma picked up only their third win of the season, denying wasteful Fiorentina a place in the top six with a 1-0 victory at the Stadio Ennio Tardini. Andrea Costa scored the only goal of the game to earn Roberto Donadoni’s men a much-needed victory which lifted them above Cesena and off the foot of the table. Fiorentina’s defeat was compounded by red cards for Gonzalo Rodriguez and Stefan Savic.

Genoa recovered from going two goals behind to pick up a point from a 2-2 draw with Atalanta at the Stadio Luigi Ferraris. Davide Zappacosta’s first goal in Serie A and a Maximiliano Moralez effort put the Nerazzurri in command. Iago Falque pulled a goal back from the penalty spot before Alessandro Matri netted his first goal at the Marassi to earn the high-flying hosts a point.

Elsewhere, Empoli held Hellas Verona to a goalless draw at the Stadio Carlo Castellani to extend their unbeaten run to six games. Chievo and Torino shared the spoils from another uneventful 0-0 draw. The point did lift i Mussi Volanti up to 16th place, five points clear of the drop zone.