AC Milan move closer to Juventus

Associated Press

Rome, January 7:

Defending champion AC Milan, which got three goals from Argentina striker Hernan Crespo, thrashed Lecce 5-2 to move within two points of Serie A leader Juventus, which was held to a 1-1 draw at lowly Parma.

The Milan powerhouse won its 11th match of the season to improve to 38 points as Italy’s top league resumed following a three-week winter break. Juventus forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic headed his team into the lead in the 63rd minute at next-to-last Parma, but the hosts hit back through Marco Marchionni in the 85th at Tardini stadium.

Marchionni’s first shot was saved by Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon but the Parma player controlled the rebound and made it 1-1. Juventus, which drew for the second straight time, has 40 points. In a late match at Stadio Olimpico, Lazio stunned AS Roma 3-1 in the Roman Derby to immediately escape the relegation zone. Veteran Paolo Di Canio scored for Lazio in the 30th minute, but Roma forward Antonio Cassano headed in the equaliser in the 69th.

Lazio regained the lead five minutes later with a left-footed volley from Brazilian Cesar. Quick forward Tommaso Rocchi beat goalkeeper Ivan Pellizoli on a counterattack which caught Roma defense wide open to score into the open goal in the 85th and seal Lazio’s unexpected win. AS Roma, which started as the favourite, was left with 23 points in eighth place, presumably out of contention for the title.