Five-star Inter have Leonardo purring

Rome: A blazing second-half performance saw
Inter Milan come back from a goal down to crush Genoa 5-2 at
the San Siro and stay five points behind Serie A leaders AC
Milan on a day when Lazio beat Palermo to move within two
points of goalless Napoli.

A brace from the brilliant Samuel Eto`o and one goal each
from Giampaolo Pazzini, Goran Pandev and Yuto Nagatomo
yesterday - all in the second half, cancelled out Rodrigo
Palacio`s 40th-minute opener for Genoa before the visitors
scored a last-minute consolation through Mauro Boselli.

Inter coach Leonardo, who had witnessed Milan`s 1-0 win
at Juventus on Saturday night, was beaming at the final

"It was not easy against their five defenders but after
Pazzini`s goal it all opened up and it was a joy to watch",
said the former Milan coach before turning his attention
towards the potentially scudetto-deciding Milan derby in early

"The derby is always the derby - it`s a one off. It will
be spectacular in every sense but there are 10 games".

Meanwhile, third-placed Napoli`s own title challenge
appears to have run out of steam after the Azzurri were held
to a goalless draw by lowly Brescia. In a tense affair at the
San Paolo, coach Walter Mazzarri was sent from the dugout in
the first half for protesting as Napoli, impotent without
Ezequiel Lavezzi, fell eight points behind Milan.

In Rome, an early double from Giuseppe Sculli saw Lazio
defeat a nervous Palermo 2-0.

After the seven they conceded against Udinese that did
for coach Delio Rossi, Palermo remained unbreached for just
seven minutes in Serse Cosmi`s first game in charge. A
beautifully measured pass by Cristian Ledesma sent Sculli
clean through and the former Genoa striker finished calmly for
his first Lazio goal.

Ten minutes later and the two combined again with Ledesma
lifting a perfect pass for Sculli to head home. Palermo`s
Javier Pastore had a header saved and Lazio`s Hernandes a shot
parried soon after but at 2-0 both sides seemed content, for
different reasons, to defend in numbers with the rest of the
game played at a low tempo.

"We got the goals and used out heads to close the game
out - they didn`t cause us too many problems", said Lazio
skipper Ledesma, looking forward to next weekend`s derby
against Roma. "It doesn`t matter where we are in the league
for that particular game. It goes beyond a league match".

Antonio Di Natale`s second-half penalty, his 22nd goal of
the campaign, gave fifth-placed Udinese a 1-0 win at home to
rock-bottom Bari.

"Today we won the most difficult game of the season",
said coach Francesco Guidolin, whose free-scoring Udinese side
had lost their opening four fixtures. "Bari didn`t give up,
but I have 25 sons who I`m very pleased with right now".

Eto`o was in the thick of things from the start in Milan.
After the Cameroonian had tested Eduardo on 20 and 35 minutes,
Genoa took the lead through Palacio`s rasping cross-shot.

But in a very different second period, Pazzini
side-footed home Maicon`s cross to equalise on 50min before
Eto`o gave Inter the lead a minute later after Eduardo had
fumbled Pandev`s shot.

Six minutes on and Eto`o struck a brilliant 18th goal of
the season. Pandev made it 4-1 on 68min with only his second
goal of the season and Japanese defender Nagatomo scored a
fifth on 82min with his first Inter goal before Boselli`s late
header made the final score 5-2.

Elsewhere, Adrian Mutu struck a first-half brace to help
mid-table Fiorentina to a 3-0 home win over Catania, while
Marco Di Vaio scored his 18th goal of the season in Bologna`s
2-2 home draw with ninth-placed Cagliari.

Earlier on Sunday, two goals from Emanuele Giaccherini
helped Cesena to a 3-2 win at struggling Sampdoria and stay
above the drop zone, while sixth-placed Roma won 2-1 at Lecce
on Friday.

Bureau Report

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