Inter scramble draw as pressure grows on Ranieri

04 March 2012 10:47

Claudio Ranieri's grip on his Inter Milan job appeared even more precarious on Sunday after his side had to fight back from two goals down to squeeze out a 2-2 draw against Catania.

Ranieri's team had lost seven of their previous eight games, without scoring a goal, and they were soon in trouble against their unheralded visitors from Sicily.

Catania, with only one point collected in 16 previous visits to San Siro, were dreaming of all three when Alejandro Gomez gave them a 20th-minute lead and Mariano Izco added the second 18 minutes later.

Inter were booed off at half-time by the sparse crowd and the jeers at a clearly unsettled Ranieri increased in the second half as time slipped away.

But Diego Forlan pulled one back after 71 minutes -- Inter's first in 541 minujtes -- before the Uruguayan set up the unmarked Diego Milito to grab the equaliser with 10 minutes left.

Despite the late rescue act, Inter remain in seventh place in Serie A, 11 points off the Champions League places.

"The team knew how to react. We looked at each other in the dressing room at half-time and it was a delicate moment," said Ranieri.

"The guys were formidable. At 2-0 down they could have lost hope but no. This team never says never."

Lazio defeated city rivals Roma 2-1 in a stormy derby that saw Roma goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg red-carded inside the first 10 minutes.

Stekelenburg was sent off when he brought down German striker Miroslav Klose, who had burst past Juan after springing the offside trap.

Roma's eighth red card of the season was compounded when Brazilian midfielder Hernanes scored from the penalty spot, beating replacement keeper Bogdan Lobont, who had come on for Erik Lamela.

Roma levelled after 16 minutes when Fabio Borini found the target after a Juan drive had come back off the post.

Lazio's one-man advantage eventually told in the second half, however, when skipper Stefano Mauri volleyed home a free-kick from Cristian Ledesma in the 62nd minute as they claimed a league double over their derby rivals.

Lazio are now third with 48 points, three less than second-place Juventus and six off AC Milan in top spot, while Roma are down in sixth place.

"There is a long way to go. We're currently in a good position and I hope the team can maintain this concentration now that we're no longer in Europe. Above all, we must try to recover physically," said Lazio coach Edy Reja.

"We prepared the game in a certain way and did not change our balance when Roma went down to 10 men, as if your side is balanced then sooner or later you'll have the chances to win."

Goals by Edinson Cavani and Ezequiel Lavezzi gave Napoli a potentially crucial 2-1 success at Parma to take the southern outfit to within three points of the top four.

Cavani struck five minutes before the interval and Lavezzi bagged the winner with four minutes remaining after Cristian Zaccardo had threatened to rescue a point for a Parma side only four points clear of the drop zone.

Napoli moved onto 43 points from 26 matches with their fifth straight win, a run that has seen Cavani and Lavezzi plunder 10 goals between them.

But there was a touch of good fortune about their opener as Cavani bundled home having seen his initial penalty saved.

There was then an element of controversy as Argentinian Lavezzi appeared to be offside when he netted the clincher.

It was the Cavani-Lavezzi tandem that proved too hot for Chelsea in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 encounter, the pair sharing the goals in a 3-1 win -- and again they showed their poaching power.

Napoli are now fifth in the table, three points behind Udinese, who were held 0-0 at home by Atalanta.

Milan still lead the way after they thrashed Palermo 4-0 on Saturday courtesy of a Zlatan Ibrahimovic treble on his return from suspension to move three points clear of Juventus, albeit having played a game more than their Turin rivals.

Juve maintained the only unbeaten record in Serie A but had to be satisfied with a 1-1 draw at home to Chievo.

Having drawn a bad-tempered clash with Milan last weekend, the Turin side went ahead against mid-table Chievo after 18 minutes thanks to Paolo De Ceglie, but their rivals rallied and Boukary Drame netted an equaliser on 76 minutes.

Source: AFP

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