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Juve tightens grip on title, AC stumbles again

Juve tightens grip on title, AC stumbles again

Juventus took a big step towards the Serie A title on Sunday after extending their lead at the top of the table to eight points.Ruben Olivera's first-half strike and an Alessandro Del Piero penalty secured a 2-1 victory at bottom club Atalanta, while second-placed AC Milan suffered their second straight league defeat, losing 1-0 at home to Bologna.
Milan's disappointment of losing further ground to their championship rivals was compounded by an injury to Ukranian striker Andriy Shevchenko, who limped off in the 38th minute with an injury to his right ankle.
The 2004 European Footballer of the Year, who has scored 13 league goals this season, came off worst after a challenge from Alessandro Gamberini and is expected to miss Wednesday's match at Messina.
Inter got a 2-0 win at Palermo where Christian Vieri grabbed both goals.
Incisive move
The Italy international headed the visitors in front in the fourth minute after Palermo keeper Matteo Guardalben had fumbled Juan Sebastian Veron's free-kick, before stroking home his ninth goal of the campaign following an incisive move involving Dejan Stankovic and Esteban Cambiasso.
Roma climbed to fifth behind Udinese after fighting back from two goals down to beat Messina 3-2 at the Olympic Stadium, strengthening their push for a Champions League place next season. Brazilian Amantino Mancini scored a dramatic late winner with a superb solo effort.
Sampdoria fell one place to sixth after drawing 1-1 at home to relegation-threatened Siena, while Lecce won 1-0 at struggling Brescia.
Emiliano Bonazzoli scored twice in the last 18 minutes to give improving Reggina a 2-1 win at home to Lazio that lifted the Calabrian side up to seventh, while Cagliari edged Fiorentina 1-0 thanks to Mauro Esposito's 11th minute goal.
A moment of madness from Alex Calderoni gifted Juventus the opening goal in the 23rd minute in Bergamo.
The Atalanta keeper unnecessarily rushed to the edge of his penalty box to try and intercept Emerson's long through-ball, but Olivera got there first and clipped the ball into an unguarded net.
Del Piero, who came on late in the match, added a second from the spot 10 minutes from time when Mauro Camoranesi was brought down in the box before an own-goal by Lilian Thuram in stoppage time, giving the home side a late consolation.
Milan were denied what looked like a perfectly good goal in the 14th minute at the San Siro.
French midfielder Vikash Dhorasoo slammed a right-footed volley into the top corner from the edge of the penalty box, but was judged by referee Massimo De Santis to have barged Brazilian defender Juarez out of the way before unleashing his stunning strike.
Bologna added insult to Milan's injury by taking the lead in the 27th minute. Theo Zagorakis, captain of the Greek team that won Euro 2004, created space for Tomas Locatelli with a sublime back-heel and the former AC Milan midfielder drilled a low drive past Nelson Dida.
n Beckham on target
England captain David Beckham was on target as Real Madrid maintained their perfect league record in 2005 with a 2-1 win at bottom club Numancia on Sunday.
Second half goals from Beckham and Michel Salgado got the points for Real before Miguel Lopez got a late consolation for the hosts, in a game played in freezing temperatures which dropped to five below zero.
However, Real goalkeeper Iker Casillas was Madrid's true hero.
The Spanish international saving a Luis Tevenet penalty on 33 minutes after Ivan Helguera had been penalized for climbing all over Numancia's Miguel Lopez.
Madrid manager Vanderlei Luxemburgo said, "Winning five league games in a row makes me very happy but we have to also remember that we've actually got nothing to show for it so far."
Valencia stay in third after their 2-2 draw with Athletic Bilbao but the gap between the reigning Spanish champions and the top two continues to grow as Valencia have now gone three games without a win.
Atheltic were 2-0 up after an hour with goals from Andoni Iraola and Santi Ezquerro, the first from the penalty spot after Marco Caneira had handled the ball, before Valencia salvaged a point with late strikes by Mista Ferrer and Marco Di Vaio.
Forlan continues form
Former Manchester United striker Diego Forlan contributed two goals as Villarreal notched up their their fourth successive victory with an emphatic 4-0 win at Real Sociedad. Forlan has now found the net nine times in seven games.
"Four-nil was a little excessive but I think it demonstrates the measure of our dominance on the pitch," said Villarreal coach Manuel Pellegrini.
Villarreal are now unbeaten in eight games and their run has taken them up to sixth.
Espanyol continued to keep alive their hopes of qualifying for the Champions League with a 2-2 draw with Real Betis to move them into fourth, but the Barcelona-based side will be regretting twice throwing away the lead.
Ivan De La Pena put Espanyol ahead with a free kick after 28 minutes which sailed straight into the net.Betis then got back to level terms five minutes after the break when Espanyol goalkeeper Carlos Kameni was caught out of position and Assuncao had a relatively easy task of finding the net.
Espanyol looked to have wrapped up the three points nine minutes from the whistle when Raul Tamudo danced his way past Toni Doblas only for Fernando Fernandez to equalize three minutes from time
Struggling Real Mallorca got a rare win when they beat Getafe 3-1, helped by two goals from Luis Garcia.
Racing Santander moved up two places to get out of the danger zone after a 2-2 draw with Levante.
In other Primera Liga action: Real Zaragoza 1, Malaga 0; Osasuna 1, Deportivo 1.
n AC player joins Depor
Deportivo La Coruna has signed Argentina central defender Fabricio Coloccini from AC Milan, according to news reports Sunday.
Coloccini agreed to a 6 1/2-year contract with the Spanish club, the leading sports daily Marca said on its Web site. No details on the transfer fee were available.
Deportivo will be Coloccini's fourth Spanish team. He spent the last three seasons with Alaves, Atletico Madrid and Villarreal, all of which he joined on loan from Milan.
The 23-year-old defender is the first signing of this month's transfer window by Deportivo, which is in 11th place in the 20-team Spanish league. Deportivo was also eliminated from the Copa del Rey by second-division Elche and finished last in its Champions League group without scoring a goal.