The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION
Napoli and Juventus win to keep up pressure on Serie A leader Roma, Kaka scores as Milan draws
MILAN - Victories for Napoli and Juventus kept the pressure on Serie A leader Roma on Wednesday, while Kaka scored his first goal since returning to AC Milan in a 1-1 draw against Lazio.
Jose Maria Callejon and Dries Mertens scored to help Napoli to a controversial 2-1 win at Fiorentina. U.S.-born forward Giuseppe Rossi had levelled from the penalty spot with his ninth goal in 10 games.
Napoli's Christian Maggio was sent off after receiving his second yellow card 10 minutes from time while Fiorentina's Juan Cuadrado was also dismissed in stoppage time after being booked a second time for diving.
"I don't want to talk about the referee but only about the game," Napoli coach Rafa Benitez said. "We won by making the most of the space behind the defence, we held the ball well and tried to get the most we could at a difficult ground."
Fiorentina protested furiously and replays seemed to indicate that Cuadrado had been tripped in the penalty area by Gokhan Inler.
"I have to analyze the performance of the team without being influenced by refeering decisions, even when those are decisive," Fiorentina coach Vincenzo Montella said. "Fiorentina had a great game. We created a lot, we didn't deserve to lose."
Juventus beat Catania 4-0 with goals from Arturo Vidal, Andrea Pirlo, Carlos Tevez and Leonardo Bonucci.
Napoli and Juventus are two points behind Roma, which has won all nine of its opening matches and hosts last-place Chievo Verona on Thursday.
Fiorentina was aiming for a fourth straight win in all competitions but was still without Mario Gomez, Massimo Ambrosini, Mati Fernandez and Josip Ilicic. Napoli decided to rest Marek Hamsik in favour of Goran Pandev.
The hosts dominated the early stages but it was Napoli which took the lead when Gonzalo Higuain put in a delightful cross for fellow summer signing Callejon to volley into the bottom left corner.
Fiorentina equalized after Federico Fernandez was adjudged to have pushed over Stefan Savic in the area. Napoli goalkeeper Pepe Reina, who had recently become the first person to save a Mario Balotelli penalty, was unable to prevent Rossi's spot kick from going into the bottom left corner.
Napoli restored its lead nine minutes from halftime, when Mertens won the ball and raced into the area before firing into the bottom right corner.
AC Milan was desperate for victory after slipping to 10th following two defeats in three matches, while Lazio had not won at San Siro since 1989.
Kaka, who had twice gone close in the first half, broke the deadlock nine minutes after the interval, curling a stunning strike into the top right corner for his first Milan goal in four and a half years following an unhappy spell at Real Madrid.
Milan has conceded more headed goals than any other team this season and its defence was again caught out when Michael Ciani equalized with a free header from Antonio Candreva's cross.
"It's a difficult period, but I saw so many positive things tonight," Milan coach Massimiliano Allegri said. "You get out of this situation by working and continuing to have faith.
"We are far from third spot and we have to climb up the table by starting to win again. We shouldn't lose heart. If we continue like this, the team will start getting results again."
In an incredible match at Livorno, the home side rallied from two goals down to take the lead before settling for a 3-3 draw against Torino.
Ciro Immobile and Kamil Glik put Torino 2-0 up inside eight minutes but Livorno levelled before halftime with goals from Paulinho and Leandro Greco.
Emerson lashed a shot under the crossbar to put Livorno in front after the break but Alessio Cerci's penalty helped Torino snatch a point following Leandro Rinaudo's handball.
Bologna is level on points with Livorno, three points off the drop zone after goals from Gyorgy Garics, Panagiotis Kone and Michele Pazienza helped it to a convincing 3-0 win at Cagliari.
Sampdoria is also level with Bologna and Livorno after it lost 2-0 at high-flying Hellas Verona.
Juanito Gomez Taleb and Luca Toni scored in the second half to help newly-promoted Verona maintain its 100 per cent home record and move into fifth in the standings.
Elsewhere, Udinese won 2-1 at 10-man Sassuolo and Genoa beat Parma 1-0.
(1 of 50 articles for this week)12/6/2013 11:11 PM 0