MILAN - Serie A leaders AC Milan nervously
responded to victories for four of their title rivals by drawing
1-1 at Lecce on Sunday to remain four points clear at the top.
Milan lacked guile in the first half with Robinho and Andrea
Pirlo missing and Ronaldinho sold but as he so often does Zlatan
Ibrahimovic opened the scoring with a brilliant opportunist
strike from 20 metres early in the second half.
Lecce, who won at high-flying Lazio last weekend, hit the
post before Ruben Olivera swept home following a corner on 82
minutes to grab a deserved point in their fight against the
Milan also drew 4-4 with Udinese last Sunday as cracks begin
to show in their title bid at the start of the second half of
the season despite signing the mercurial Antonio Cassano.
"What Ibra did today was of extraordinary beauty and I'm
sorry we've dropped two points from a game which we had in our
grasp," coach Massimiliano Allegri told Sky.
"We conceded a goal in the only way we were going to."
Late winners from Lazio, Juventus and AS Roma kept the lucky
trio on Milan's tail while resurgent champions Inter Milan, in
sixth, beat Bologna 4-1 on Saturday and are now just nine points
behind the leaders with two matches in hand.
The first game of the two is at home to Cesena on Wednesday.
Lazio went joint-second thanks to substitute Libor Kozak's
header six minutes from time in a 1-0 home win over Sampdoria.
The Czech striker, expected to leave the Rome club in the
January transfer window, looked just ahead of the last defender
as a free-kick was swung into the box but he celebrated wildly
nonetheless and ripped his shirt in the process.
Lazio, surprise packages having been relegation candidates
last season, moved level with Napoli after Walter Mazzarri's
side could only draw 0-0 with Fiorentina on Saturday.
Fourth-placed Roma's 89th-minute goal in the 1-0 win at
Cesena could have been chalked off too with Adriano appearing to
be just in front of the defenders during a scramble.
His shot, after Marco Borriello hit the bar, was saved and
Simplicio also looked a touch offside as he put the ball back
across the goal and it went in off Maximiliano Pellegrino.
"The referees have said they'll never spot that centimetre.
it's not worth discussing," Roma boss Claudio Ranieri said.
Alberto Aquilani's volley 11 minutes from the end deflected
in off team-mate Giorgio Chiellini to wrongfoot the goalkeeper
and give fifth-placed Juventus a 2-1 win over bottom side Bari.
Juve have yet another injury crisis and Alessandro Del
Piero, 36, was the only one of five first-team strikers fit.
The hosts laboured until Del Piero curled in a trademark
free-kick just before the break but Bari equalised early in the
second half when new signing Gergely Rudolf easily beat
Gianluigi Buffon, playing his first league game since May.
Palermo slipped back to seventh after losing 3-1 at Cagliari
in the battle of the two island capitals and in-form Udinese
triumphed 4-2 at a Genoa side lacking strikers in their squad.
Brescia remained in the relegation zone despite a 2-0 home
win over inconsistent Parma while Catania and Chievo drew 1-1.
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