MILAN - Inter Milan's crisis intensified
on Sunday with a 2-1 defeat at Chievo where Samuel Eto'o
committed a Zinedine Zidane-like headbutt that could result in a
Inter president Massimo Moratti gave coach Rafael Benitez
his backing after last weekend's derby defeat by leaders AC
Milan, but another loss has left the Spaniard exposed with the
champions now nine points off top spot.
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Eto'o was not cautioned by the referee for a headbutt but
the Cameroon striker could be punished retrospectively.
He scored Inter's consolation goal late on after Sergio
Pellissier and Davide Moscardelli put Chievo two up.
"It's clear after a defeat no one is happy but the only
thing I can say is the players worked hard and the reaction in
the second half on an awful pitch was the reaction we expect," a
solemn Benitez, whose side have taken two points from four
games, told Sky television.
"What Eto'o did is not something good but he took a punch
first and it was provocation. He lost a bit of control, that's
Second-placed Lazio also lost ground on Milan after a 1-1
draw at Parma that left the gap at three points. Milan had
beaten Fiorentina 1-0 on Saturday.
Marek Hamsik scored twice as Napoli went third with a 4-1
win over struggling Bologna, who could soon face a points
penalty for financial irregularities if a hearing goes against
Juventus won 2-0 at Genoa on Sunday to end up fourth and
fifth-placed AS Roma beat Udinese 2-0 on Saturday.
With five sides above Inter after 13 games, last season's
treble winners have a fight on their hands to win a sixth
successive scudetto given their poor form and injuries.
Pellissier's first-half header and Moscardelli's second-half
strike secured Chievo's victory, but the game will be remembered
more for the actions of the league's top scorer, Eto'o.
In a moment of madness similar to France midfielder Zinedine
Zidane's assault on Italian Marco Materazzi in the 2006 World
Cup final, Eto'o headbutted Cesar in the chest after being hit
by the defender earlier.
The officials missed the first-half incident but Serie A is
sure to look at video evidence and will almost certainly hand
the Cameroonian a lengthy ban, depriving Inter of their leading
Eto'o netted his ninth goal of the Serie A season in
stoppage-time on a rain-sodden Verona pitch, where Italy's rugby
side had played last weekend.
Inter had three youth team players on the bench because of
their injury problems, which Benitez has said are bad luck and
nothing to do with his changing the team's training regime after
taking over from ex-coach Jose Mourinho.
Juventus have had a raft of injuries too, but winger Milos
Krasic returned from his knock to score in the win over Genoa.
The visitors had taken a fortunate lead when Claudio
Marchisio's deflected shot cannoned in off the post and the back
of Portugal keeper Eduardo.
In the pick of the other Sunday matches, Giampaolo Pazzini
scored a hat-trick in Sampdoria's thrilling 3-2 win at Lecce,
where Sampdoria striker Antonio Cassano was again omitted
following his row last month with the club president.
New Cagliari coach Roberto Donadoni got off to a winning
start with a 2-1 comeback victory at Brescia.
Borussia Dortmund's Mario Gotze ruled out of Champions League final against Bayern Munich
Malaga coach Manuel Pellegrini will leave the La Liga club at the end of the current season
Stoke City and manager Tony Pulis part company by mutual agreement after seven years
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