Top four do battle in Serie A (Matchday 27)
A big week in the Serie A saw the top four teams do battle, with a top of the table clash in Naples followed by a battle for outright third in Milan, providing two very different games.
With Napoli hosting the Scudetto favourites in Juventus, the Naples club had an opportunity to stake a real claim for the Championship, starting the round only six points below the Champions.
An early goal for Juventus announced the Champions’ ambitions as Georgio Chiellini pounced on a well-placed Andrea Pirlo cross.
However Napoli was able to match the Bianconeri as they drifted more into the game.
Their arrival was soon announced by Gokhan Inler, who drove the ball from 30 yards out into the right top hand corner, following a slight deflection off the head of Leonardo Bonucci.
The first half score at 1-1 would stand to the final whistle, as Napoli showed they were a real threat for the Scudetto.
The third versus fourth match-up was not nearly as competitive as AC Milan took advantage of Lazio’s recent form slump, slotting three goals away to win 3-0 in a routine manner, Giampaolo Pazzini grabbing a brace.
The form team of the competition continues to benefit from one of the strongest attacking line-ups in the competition, with Mario Balotelli adding even more depth to the likes of Kevin-Prince Boateng, Stephan El Shaarawy and Giampaolo Pazzini.
Fifth-placed Inter Milan had a fight of their own as they travelled south to face Catania, where a win for the Sicilian outfit would see them jump their Milanese counterparts.
Things did not look good for Inter after the first half, finding themselves two-nil down after some embarrassing defensive lapses.
However, in an incredible turnaround, the inclusion of Rodrigo Palacios turned out to be a crucial switch for the Nerazzuri.
The Argentinian almost single-handedly turned the tables, providing the assist for Inter’s opening goal and going on to score the equaliser and then the winner in stoppage time, completing an amazing comeback.
The 3-2 win saw Inter jump Lazio into fourth and remain in the hunt for the Champions League position.
Roma and Fiorentina were able to keep their European campaigns going, recording wins over Genoa (3-1) and Chievo (2-1) respectively.
Sampdoria kept their impressive form intact, stretching their unbeaten run to six games with a 1-0 win at home to Parma.
Palermo failed to provide a case for topflight survival in a stale 0-0 draw away to Torino, whilst Pescara slumped back to an unfortunate but familiar bottom of the table position, Udinese taking the three points after nabbing a 1-0 away win.
In other results, Bologna continued their renaissance up the standings with a 3-0 drubbing of Cagliari whilst Atalanta were too strong for Siena with a 2-0 win.
Next week will see most the European contenders facing matches in which their fans will expect three points, making for a high pressure round.
Lazio has a difficult task of finding form at home to Fiorentina, Juventus will look to hold their lead at home to Catania, whilst an intriguing Europa battle awaits with Udinese at home to Roma.
Goal of the Round
Gokhan Inler: a fantastic 30 yard drive to the top right corner, allowing Napoli to share the points in the top of the table clash.
Game of the Round
Catania vs Inter: A game of many chances and excitement to suit, as Inter completed an incredible comeback from two-nil down, with fast paced action right up to Palacio’s stoppage time winner.
Player of the Round
Rodrigo Palacio: Hard to go past the Argentinian striker who only played one half of football but almost single headedly orchestrated Inter Milan’s comeback at Catania, providing one assist and two goals.