AC Milan scraped an undeserved 2-1 victory at Cagliari on Sunday
as a stunning Andrea Pirlo free-kick five minutes from time stole the points.
Milan were out of sorts despite Brazil star Ronaldo making his first appearance
of the season and could easily have lost the match.
Instead they rose to ninth in the Serie A table and closed the gap on city
rivals Inter Milan at the top to 11 points.
Cagliari stunned the European Champions after just four minutes as Robert
Acquafresca rose above Italy full-back Massimo Oddo to head home a corner.
Milan did little to suggest they would find a way back into the game before the
break but were handed a lifeline with a soft penalty award.
Ronaldo blatantly dived in the box after the slightest tug of his shirt from
marker Paolo Bianco when yards from the ball but the referee pointed to the spot.
Justice was served, though, as goalkeeper Marco Fortin plunged to his right to
beat out playmaker Kaka's penalty, with veteran defender Paolo Maldini slicing
the follow-up wide.
Milan did get back on level terms on the hour mark as Alberto Gilardino made the
most of slack home defending to poke the ball home.
Acquafresca came within inches of restoring Cagliari's lead just moments later
but after he skipped past Dida in the Milan goal, Daniele Bonera got back to
clear his effort off the line.
Udinese continued their Champions League charge with a 2-0 home win over Siena
that moved them up to third, level on points with second-placed Roma, who won
1-0 at Genoa on Saturday.
Italy pair Fabio Quagliarella and Antonio Di Natale scored either side of
half-time to earn Udinese their fourth win in five games, extending their
unbeaten run to eight matches.
Fiorentina dropped to fourth after a listless 0-0 draw at Reggina that has hit
their title hopes.
Lowly Livorno continued their resurrection with a 3-1 win at home to Sampdoria,
their third win in four games.
The game was all but decided inside the first 10 minutes after goals from Dario
Knezevic and Francesco Tavano put the hosts in command.
A late strike from Claudio Bellucci gave Sampdoria hope before Tavano's second
sealed the win two minutes from time.
In Rome Lazio's hardcore fans turned up 20 minutes late for their 1-0 win over
Parma as a show of solidarity for fan Gabriele Sandri, who was shot dead by a
policeman two weeks ago.
Fabio Firmani scored a dramatic last-minute winner for the hosts with a
deflected shot that was initially going wide.
On Saturday, back-up strikers Julio Cruz and David Suazo tore Atalanta apart as
champions Inter stretched their lead at the top of the Serie A table to three
points with a narrow 2-1 victory.
Cruz set up Suazo for a 10th-minute opener and the Honduran repaid the
compliment to his Argentine strike partner on the half hour mark.
Atalanta scored the goal of the game, though, as Sergio Flocarri took the ball
on his chest on the edge of the penalty box, swiveled and hit a dipping volley
into the top corner six minutes from the break.