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Balotelli Saves Milan While Roma Continue To Struggle

serie aMario Balotelli scored his third goal in two games for AC Milan to snatch a share of the points in a 1-1 draw at Cagliari today as Roma’s slump continued with a 3-1 defeat to Sampdoria.

Three straight wins had maintained Milan’s hopes of earning a top-three finish, but Segundo Ibarbo flicked Daniele Conti’s free-kick into the net in the final action of the first half to put Cagliari in front. However, Mario Balotelli scored from the penalty spot with eight minutes remaining to earn a point for the Rossoneri, who could be displaced by neighbours Inter Milan should the Nerrazzuri beat Chievo Verona later tonight.

Roma suffered their tenth defeat of the season. The result, coupled with Udinese’s 1-0 home win over Torino, dropped the capital club to ninth place. Roma sacked coach Zdenek Zeman last week after a humiliating 4-2 home defeat to Cagliari. However, caretaker coach Aurelio Andreazzoli has work to do if he is to plug the holes in Roma’s defence which has now conceded 45 goals.

Paraguayan midfielder Marcelo Estigarribia broke the deadlock on 56 minutes with a low angled drive and the hosts doubled their lead on 73 minutes when second-half substitute Gianluca Sansone rifled a freekick past Maarten Stekelenburg.

Argentine midfielder Erik Lamela reduced arrears two minutes later, however Sampdoria secured the win when Argentine Emanuele Icardi was left unmarked to beat Stekelenburg at the back post from a 77th minute corner.

Elsewhere in other Serie A action, it was a draw-filled day as Parma and Genoa went goalless and Catania took a point at Atalanta by the same scoreline. Palermo drew 1-1 at home to Pescara, while Bologna and Siena both tallied a goal to share the points.

Juventus, who face Celtic in Glasgow in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League last 16 tie on Tuesday, beat Fiorentina 2-0 yesterday and now have a five-point lead on Napoli after they could only sneak a 1-1 draw at Lazio.