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Sunday, 4 March 2012

Inter break five-game losing streak with draw

Milan: Inter Milan came back from two goals down to draw 2-2 at home to Catania in Serie A on Sunday and end their five-game losing run.

Alejandro Gomez and Mariano Izco gave Catania a solid halftime lead as Inter was roundly booed throughout the first period.

The game changed in less than 10 second-half minutes, however, as Diego Forlan helped Inter hit back with the team's first goal in six games before Diego Milito leveled.

Inter are still winless in their past nine games, but the result could give coach Claudio Ranieri a stay of execution as he seeks to avoid becoming the club's second managerial casualty of the campaign.

Inter are a point behind sixth-place Roma, which lost 2-1 in a heated derby match against Lazio with both sides reduced to 10 men.

"It was an important response," Ranieri said. "Finally we got a goal and now we have to continue to fight, but this is a squad that never gives up. We looked at each other in the dressing room, it was a really troublesome moment, but these champions knew how to react.

"We are united and we have to get out of this situation all together, as usual. Unfortunately there still remains the problem that at the first scare we seem less determined. Tonight we started well, but we went behind on the first counterattack and then we became scared and got in difficulty."

However, club president Massimo Moratti might well consider Javier Zanetti's comments that it was goalkeeper Julio Cesar's halftime speech that led to the comeback, as questions arise as to whether the players are losing faith in Ranieri.

Ranieri opted to leave key playmaker Wesley Sneijder on the bench after less than impressive performances from the Dutch star, although he was brought on to start the second half.

Inter found themselves on the back foot when Gomez bamboozled his way past Yuto Nagatomo on the left of the area before firing into the bottom right corner in the 21st minute.

Catania doubled their lead six minutes before the break when Giovanni Marchese picked out Izco, who tapped in from close range, although the goal should have been disallowed for offside.

Forlan finally broke Inter's 541-minute goal drought in the 71st. The Uruguayan weaved down the left flank before cutting inside and firing in an effort which goalkeeper Juan Pablo Carrizo failed to hold.

Milito lashed in the equalizer nine minutes later. Inter should have scored in stoppage time, but Giampaolo Pazzini somehow failed to score when he was picked out completely alone in the center of the area.

Lazio did the double over Roma for the first time in 15 years to claim the advantage in the race for third place.

Lazio took the lead in the seventh minute after Maarten Stekelenburg brought down Miroslav Klose. The Roma goalkeeper was sent off and Hernanes converted the resulting penalty.

Despite the man disadvantage, Fabio Borini, who has now scored six of Roma's past nine goals, levelled less than 10 minutes later. However, Stefano Mauri fired in what was to prove the winner on the hour mark.

Lazio defender Lionel Scaloni was sent off five minutes from time after receiving a second yellow card.

Lazio are now third, two points above Udinese, who were held to a 0-0 draw by Atalanta, and five above Napoli after Ezequiel Lavezzi and Edinson Cavani scored yet again to help their side to a controversial 2-1 victory at Parma.

Cristian Zaccardo had levelled for Parma in the 76th.

Lavezzi and Cavani have scored 10 goals between them in the past five matches.

Lecce maintained their impressive recent run in drawing 2-2 against Genoa. Judged by many as relegation certainties a month ago, Lecce have gone five games unbeaten.

A Giuseppe Sculli brace either side of a Luis Muriel strike and a stunning 25-yard free kick from Davide Brivio saw both sides share the spoils.

Bologna remain four points clear of the drop zone after scraping a 1-0 win against 19th-place Novara. The game was put back in the day so as not to coincide with the funeral of singer-songwriter Lucio Dalla — a staunch Bologna fan — who died on Thursday.

Bologna, playing with black armbands, could have taken the lead when Santiago Garcia fouled Alessandro Diamanti in the area. However, Novara goalkeeper Samir Ujkani — who saved two spot kicks for Albania against Georgia midweek — pulled off another great stop to deny Marco Di Vaio.

The home side snatched all three points eight minutes from time. Diego Perez's effort was tipped onto the post by Ujkani and fell to Di Vaio, whose effort also crashed off the left upright before Robert Acquafresca finally converted.

Elsewhere, struggling Siena strolled to a comfortable 3-0 win against Cagliari, thanks to goals from Erjon Bogdani, Emanuele Calaio and Cristiano Del Grosso.

Last-place Cesena look even more in trouble. Defender Vangelis Moras headed into his own net and Matija Nastasic scored his first Serie A goal to give Fiorentina a 2-0 win.


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