Logic, Lazio fans' style

Published : May 13, 2010 00:00 IST

Barcelona's Xavi Hernandez reacts along with Carles Puyol after scoring against Villarreal during a Spanish La Liga match. Xavi is carrying injuries, but is solidering on for Barca.-AP
Barcelona's Xavi Hernandez reacts along with Carles Puyol after scoring against Villarreal during a Spanish La Liga match. Xavi is carrying injuries, but is solidering on for Barca.-AP

Barcelona's Xavi Hernandez reacts along with Carles Puyol after scoring against Villarreal during a Spanish La Liga match. Xavi is carrying injuries, but is solidering on for Barca.-AP

Why did Lazio fans cheer when their team lost to Inter Milan? Read on.

Bizarre scenes were witnessed at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome, where Lazio fans roared their approval as their team slipped to a 2-0 defeat against Inter Milan in Serie A, a loss that left the home team a mere five points above the drop zone with two games left.

The reason for their delight? Schadenfreude-Inter's win put it back on top of the Serie A table, two points clear of Lazio's loathed cross-town rival Roma.

The cheering began from the moment Walter Samuel, wandering upfield from central defence, nodded in Wesley Sneijder's left-wing cross to put Inter 1-0 up and doubled in volume when Thiago Motta ensured the win with another header 20 minutes from the final whistle.

Roma kept alive its flickering title hopes, which had taken a massive dent with a 2-1 home defeat to Sampdoria, with a 2-1 win at Parma. Skipper Francesco Totti opened Roma's scoring spectacularly, lobbing keeper Antonio Mirante after controlling a lofted pass from Daniele De Rossi with his chest. Rodrigo Taddei made it 2-0 with a 74th minute header, Totti providing the cross, before Davide Lanzafame pulled one back for Parma in the 81st minute.

Meanwhile, Sampdoria stayed unswerving in its quest for a Champions League spot with its fifth straight league victory, a 2-0 win over rock-bottom Livorno that kept it in fourth place, two points clear of Palermo, which won 2-1 at Siena.

La LigaMessi, Ronaldo in customary touch

Barcelona maintained its one-point lead over Real Madrid with a 4-1 win at Villareal, with Lionel Messi scoring as is customary, a brace this time, and Xavi curling in a 25-yard free kick. Worryingly, especially for Spain ahead of the World Cup, Xavi also revealed after the game that he was carrying a calf injury. “The truth is I'm carrying a number of aches but the team has a lot on the line and I want to be here,” he said. “There's only three games left so I have to push and if I'm pushing it's because I think I'm OK.”

Barca coach Pep Guardiola, however, suggested that his condition might be less than OK: “Xavi's playing with an injury that could see him miss out on the World Cup.”

Real, meanwhile, continued to remain in Barca's rearview mirrors thanks to a brace from Cristiano Ronaldo, who dragged a less-than-impressive Real to a 3-2 win over Osasuna. A horrendous error from centre-back Raul Albiol, who failed to connect with an attempted clearance-cum-backpass, put Carlos Aranda through on goal to open Osasuna's scoring in the seventh minute. Ronaldo equalised, drilling a low shot into the bottom left corner after a solo run through the bewildered heart of the Osasuna defence, all of three defenders spurning the choice of closing down the Portuguese forward's space.

Two more goals rounded off the first half, Krisztian Vadocz putting Osasuna back in front before Marcelo drew Real level again. It remained 2-2 till the 88th minute, Masoud Shojaei missing an open goal for Osasuna in between, before Ronaldo sealed victory with a trademark far-post header from Gonzalo Higuain's left-wing cross.

BundesligaAnother Muller

Bayern Munich all but secured the Bundesliga title with a 3-1 win over Bochum, which took it three points clear of Schalke with only one game left. Schalke dug its own grave, losing 2-0 at home to third-placed Werder Bremen when a win might have kept its hopes alive on the final day.

As it stands, Bayern's lead is effectively four points, thanks to a goal difference of 39 compared to Schalke's 22. Bayern already has nine fingers on its 22nd German championship, with one little finger staying put just in case an anomalous final-day scenario pans out wherein Bayern loses heavily to bottom-placed Hertha Berlin and Schalke enjoys a goal-feast of gluttonous proportions at Mainz.

Bayern's hero against Bochum was Thomas Muller, who belied with a classy hat-trick the reputation garnered through his Champions League performances of being a hard-working but unspectacular deep-lying forward. Here, he showed shades of another Muller, the unbelievably prolific Gerd Muller, who had earlier in the season compared the 20-year-old to himself, that too in the middle of a heated rant about Germany's other strikers.

“He is an incredible young lad,” Der Bomber had proclaimed. “He can use both his left and right foot, like me. He is quick, strong in the air and he is one that can be taken to the World Cup.”

While Muller's hat-trick wasn't the ‘perfect hat-trick' involving left foot, right foot and head, it didn't lack variety — he chested in his first goal, headed home his second and danced past two defenders into the Bochum 18-yard-box before driving a right-footed shot into the bottom corner to complete the job.

Elsewhere, Werder Bremen's win at Schalke took it two points clear of fourth-placed Bayer Leverkusen in the race for the final Champions League spot (the club placed third in the Bundesliga earns a place in the third qualifying round). Leverkusen, on its part, only managed a 1-1 home draw against Hertha Berlin.

Ligue 1Crucial match ends goal-less

With four rounds remaining, when the two top teams in France met, they were separated by five points. A win for Marseille would have effectively ended the title race, with the gap widening to eight. A win for Auxerre would have narrowed it to two points, spicing things up for the final three games.

As it happened, the game ended goalless, with Marseille striker Brandao lucky to stay on the pitch after appearing to elbow Auxerre right back Cédric Hengbart in the face in the 56th minute.

Bordeaux ended a six-game win-less streak with a 1-0 win over Toulose that kept alive its hopes of a third-place finish. Lille, which beat Nancy Lorraine 3-1, currently occupies that spot, with 64 points, four ahead of Bordeaux in fifth. Sandwiching the two on 62 points is Lyon, which recorded a 1-0 win against sixth-placed Montpellier courtesy a left-footed finish from Michel Bastos, who latched on to a long ball from Lyon 'keeper Hugo Lloris that neither Montpellier centre-back dealt with properly.

Karthik Krishnaswamy

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