AC Milan\'s hopes of catching Serie A leaders Juventus suffered a major setback on Saturday after the Rossonieri went down to a shock 2-1 defeat at plucky Chievo Verona.
Kakha Kaladze put the visitors in front but goals from Sergio Pellissier and Simone Tiribocchi consigned Milan to its third defeat of the season.
Milan\'s loss would have seen it eight points off the pace if Juventus won at Fiorentina yesterday, while Chievo climbed to fifth.
Milan coach Carlo Ancelotti must now try and raise the morale of his team for tomorrow\'s crunch Champions League clash against Schalke 04 at the San Siro where a defeat could see them eliminated from the competition.
In Verona, Pellissier shot into the side-netting before Milan took the lead in the 22nd minute. Andrea Pirlo chipped a free kick towards the edge of the six-yard box and Kaladze\'s diving header was superby saved by Chievo keeper Lorenzo Squizzo.
However, the Georgian defender quickly got up off the floor to tuck home the rebound.
After Andriy Shevchenko went close to extending Milan\'s advantage, the home side was denied by the woodwork.
Marco Malago found space 20 yards from goal and his fierce right-footed drive struck the base of the post. However, Chievo was rewarded for its persistence in first-half stoppage time with a clever move that caught AC\'s defense napping.
Federico Giunti\'s chip was flicked on by David Mandelli and Pellissier nipped in ahead of Kaladze to bury a shot past Nelson Dida.
Tiribocchi came on for Brazilian striker Amauri in the 80th minute and Chievo was in front within seconds.
The 27-year-old substitute opened up Milan\'s defense after playing a quick one-two with Nigerian Victor Obinna before curling a right-footed shot past Dida.
Meanwhile, Adriano scored with a curling first-half free kick and Inter Milan beat Ascoli 1-0 Saturday to move closer to Juve. At the San Siro, Adriano netted the game winner in the 24th minute for his sixth Serie A goal this season.
Beckham sees red
Ronaldo scored and David Beckham was ejected in Real Madrid\'s 1-0 win over neighbor Getafe in the Spanish league on Saturday.
Ronaldo, who was returning from injury after appearing in only one of Madrid\'s previous nine games, struck in the 18th minute at Santiago Bernabeu Stadium to lift Madrid into fourth place in the standings.
Beckham received a red card in the 57th minute for a tackle on striker Ivan \"Riki\" Sanchez-Rico.
The midfielder, wearing a black armband in honor of George Best - the Manchester United and Northern Ireland star who was buried earlier Saturday, then exchanged angry words with Getafe coach Bernd Schuster before he exited through the players\' tunnel.
\"I congratulated him on his good game,\" Schuster said sarcastically before agreeing that Beckham had appeared over-excited during the game.
The dismissal was the midfielder\'s fourth since he joined Madrid from Manchester United in 2003. It was also the third time Beckham has been sent off this season. He was ejected playing for England against Austria and for Madrid against Valencia.
\"The ejection was bad because it\'s not good to be with a player less. But to suggest he was seeking a red card is another matter. We\'re having a difficult time and perhaps he is trying to do things the wrong way,\" Madrid coach Vanderlei Luxemburgo was quoted as saying by news agency Efe.
Ronaldo scored when he raced onto a pass by Zinedine Zidane, maintained
The Brazilian striker had been sidelined for a month with strained ankle ligaments but returned for Madrid\'s 3-0 defeat by Barcelona two weeks ago. He re-injured the ankle and missed two more games, one in the league and one in the European Champions League.
Luxemburgo faces ax
Meanwhile Luxemburgo is again facing the ax, news reports said yesterday.
Leading sports daily Marca said the Brazilian was set to be fired yesterday or when the team returns tomorrow\'s Champions League match against Olympiakos in Athens.
Real\'s lackluster display against Getafe reportedly angered president Florentino Perez, who is said to have held a crisis meeting with club officials afterward.
Madrid is supposedly considering replacing Luxemburgo with Juan Ramon Lopez Caro, the coach of reserve team Real Madrid Castilla, which plays in the Spanish second division. Lopez Caro would serve as a caretaker before a prestigious coach could be appointed for next season. Marca said possible candidates included Juventus\' Fabio Capello, Liverpool\'s Rafa Benitez and Chelsea\'s Jose Mourinho.