AC Milan climbed into a Champions League qualifying
place for the first time this season after Kaka, Giuseppe Favalli and Ronaldo
scored in a 3-1 win over Messina in Serie A on Sunday.
Milan, who started the season on minus eight points for their part in last
year's match-fixing scandal, are fourth with 50 points, 30 points behind leaders
Inter, who host fifth-placed Palermo (48 points) in Sunday's late match (1930
In Rome, AS Roma reacted to their humiliating 7-1 midweek defeat by Manchester
United in the Champions League quarter-finals with a 4-0 win over Sampdoria to
consolidate second place on 65 points.
There was disappointment, however, for third-placed Lazio (56 points), whose
eight-match winning streak ended in a 2-2 draw at basement side Ascoli.
Milan arrived at Messina's San Filippo stadium full of confidence after reaching
the Champions League semi-finals with a 2-0 win at Bayern Munich in midweek.
Messina made a lively start with midfielder Salvatore Masiello forcing Dida into
a full-stretch save at the base of his post. But they went behind in the 14th
minute when Kaka curled in a shot from outside the area.
Milan defender Favalli capitalised on his team's growing dominance on the half
hour when he ran on to Joann Gourcuff's pass to beat goalkeeper Gabriele
Paoletti from inside the area.
Striker Alberto Gilardino could have grabbed a third goal for Milan on the
stroke of halftime, but fired straight at Paoletti from close range.
Ronaldo wrapped up an impressive Milan performance when he unleashed a superb
right-foot drive into the top corner of the net five minutes from the end.
Masiello held off Kakha Kaladze to snatch Messina's consolation goal in
Roma also ran out comfortable winners after Francesco Totti steadied their
nerves with a goal in the 21st minute at home to Sampdoria.
The Roma captain's second goal, on the break midway through the second half,
cemented his place as the division's leading scorer this season with 20 goals.
Defenders Matteo Ferrari and Christian Panucci also scored as Sampdoria's
Lazio showed great determination as they twice came from behind in the final 20
minutes to draw at Ascoli.
The Rome side were aiming to equal the club record of nine successive Serie A
wins, set under Sven Goran Eriksson in the 1998-99 season, but unexpectedly went
behind in the 70th minute when Ascoli striker Andrea Soncin headed in from close
Tomasso Rocchi equalised three minutes later, but Guglielmo Stendardo's foul on
Sasa Bjelanovic reduced Lazio to 10 men and gave Ascoli a penalty, which Luigi
Di Biagio converted.
Lazio snatched a point six minutes from time, though, when Luis Jimenez chested
down a long ball before spinning and shooting into the roof of the net.