Mon, 07 Mar 2005
From: AFP

Juve defeat Roma to rejoin Milan at the top, Barca boost lead in Spain

Agencies, Rome/Madrid

Juventus beat Roma 2-1 in a bad-tempered clash at the Olympic stadium here on Saturday to rejoin title-holders AC Milan at the top of Italy's Serie A.

Earlier in the day Milan briefly took sole possession of first place courtesy of a 2-1 victory at bottom club Atalanta where Andrea Pirlo scored a dramatic winner in the fourth minute of stoppage time.

Milan and Juve both have 60 points with 11 matches left to play.

A controversial 44th minute penalty scored by Juve captain Alessandro Del Piero settled a niggly match in the capital in which 10 players received yellow cards and more than 70 fouls were committed.

Fabio Cannavaro's close range header gave the visitors an early lead before Antonio Cassano cleverly sprung the offside trap to slot home an equalizer.

The match was given added spice by the return of Juventus coach Fabio Capello to Roma for the first time since walking out on them last summer.

He was branded a traitor by Roma for joining their bitter rivals having previously stated he would never work for the Turin club.

Capello further enraged the Roma fans by taking two of the club's best players with him -- French defender Jonathan Zebina and Brazilian midfielder Emerson.

Juve took the lead with their first chance of the game. Mauro Camoranesi's free-kick found Zlatan Ibrahimovic whose header was pushed into the path of Cannavaro and the Italy captain nodded into an unguarded net.

Roma restored equality just before half-time. Manuele Blasi's pass was intercepted and Francesco Totti slipped the ball through to Cassano. Although two Roma players were offside they were considered to be in passive positions, and Cassano ran on to slip the ball past Gianluigi Buffon.

In Madrid, Barcelona increased their lead at the top of the Spanish championship to eight points after they won 1-0 at Osasuna, with bitter rivals Real Madrid being held to a 1-1 draw at Valencia on Saturday.

Spanish first division top scorer Samuel Eto'o grabbed the victory for Barca, finding the net from the edge of the area after 39 minutes for his 19th goal of the season.

Barcelona could have had three or four goals more if they had managed to finish some more of their chances.

"When you get the job done, you've always got to be happy," said Barca coach Frank Rijkaard, dismissing suggestions that Barca were below-par despite getting three points.

"You can always say we should have scored more goals but in the end we concentrated, stopped them scoring and that was the key to the game."





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