ROME - AC Milan's title hopes suffered a
major blow when the nervous Serie A leaders suffered a shock 1-0
defeat at struggling Palermo on Saturday.
Defender Dorin Goian scored the only goal of a frantic game
in the 10th minute to leave Milan five points ahead of rivals
Inter Milan and six above Napoli.
Lazio moved up to fourth on 54 with a 1-0 win
over Cesena in Saturday's early kick-off.
Palermo, who had lost their last five games, moved up to
seventh, while the Rossoneri's fourth defeat of the campaign is
likely to mean the result of the Milan derby on April 3 will go
a long way to deciding who wins this season's scudetto.
Without suspended striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Milan coach
Massimiliano Allegri paired Brazilian Pato with Antonio Cassano
up front, but the visitors were immediately found wanting in
defence as the Sicilian side took an early lead.
Goian, in for the suspended Cesare Bovo, was left all alone
at a corner to score his first goal for the club and the first
under the charge of Serse Cosmi who took over this month.
Milan, who only managed a home draw with bottom-side Bari
last week, almost hit back immediately.
Mathieu Flamini's shot from 20 metres was tipped round the
post and from the resulting corner Alessandro Nesta just failed
to get his studs to a ball that trickled along the goal-line.
But Palermo, who lost their last home match 7-0 to Udinese
leading to the sacking of coach Delio Rossi, were playing with
First Javier Pastore and then Mauricio Pinilla troubled
keeper Christian Abbiati as the home side attacked on the break.
Pato curled a 25-metre free-kick just over the bar before
Cassano, finding space on the left, blasted wide from inside the
area as the Rossoneri tried desperately to equalise.
Palermo continued to counter-attack with speed and
intelligence but had recently criticised keeper Salvatore Sirigu
to thank in the 65th for pulling off a spectacular save to turn
aside Flamini's first-time shot from just inside the box.
Robinho, on for compatriot Pato, tested Sirigu again with a
low drive before the keeper flung himself to his left to palm
away Gennaro Gattuso's diving header with 10 minutes to go as
Milan piled on the pressure.
Palermo substitutes Fabrizio Miccoli and Abel Hernandez
missed late chances as the home side celebrated a famous win.
Earlier, Lazio's Argentine striker Mauro Zarate made the
difference in only the second minute against Cesena, turning
home Stefano Mauri's left-wing cross at the Stadio Olimpico.
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