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AC Milan beats Atalanta 3-0 with Inzaghi hat trick

FILIPPO Inzaghi scored a hat trick as AC Milan bounced back from recent struggles with a 3-0 win over Atalanta yesterday, and Serie A scoring leader Marco Di Vaio also found the net three times as Bologna beat Sampdoria 3-0.

Milan was ousted from the UEFA Cup by Werder Bremen last week and was also beaten by Sampdoria.

Inzaghi put Milan in front seven minutes in, doubled the lead in the 71st and then scored again three minutes later.

"He gave us a big hand in a delicate game," Milan coach Carlo Ancelotti said of Inzaghi. "We were in an emergency and now we hope that with this victory the emergency is finished."

David Beckham performed well as a playmaker, directing Inzaghi and fellow striker Alexandre Pato. Milan and the Los Angeles Galaxy announced before the game that Beckham has extended his loan with the Italian club through June 30.

Milan solidified its third-place position in the standings with 51 points. Inter Milan leads with 63 points and Juventus is second with 56.

Fourth-place Fiorentina (46 points) was beaten 2-0 at home by Palermo, which got goals from Fabio Simplicio and Fabrizio Miccoli.

Di Vaio improved his season tally to 19 goals with strikes in the 45th, 87th and 90th minutes against Sampdoria, which was coming off wins over Milan and Inter. The win moved Bologna two points clear of the relegation zone.

In Sunday's other games, it was: Catania 0, Siena 3; Chievo Verona 1, Cagliari 1; Lecce 0, Reggina; and Napoli 0, Lazio 2.

Tommaso Rocchi scored twice for Lazio.

Italy's three clubs playing in the Champions League this week were each in action Saturday.

Inter won 2-0 at Genoa, Juventus beat Torino 1-0 in a derby and 10-man AS Roma was held to a 1-1 draw at home by Udinese.

Inzaghi scored his first goal from the edge of the area after taking a pass from Marek Jankulovski, on a play that began with a cross from Beckham.

Pato missed the target twice in the first half after collecting long, precise passes from Beckham and Milan goalkeeper Christian Abbiati made a diving save to negate Tiberio Guarente before halftime.

With Milan struggling to secure the victory, Inzaghi took a pass from Pato, dribbled by Atalanta goalkeeper Andrea Consigli and scored into an empty net to make it 2-0, then was set up by Jankulovski and Gianluca Zambrotta for his third score.

The 35-year-old Inzaghi has five goals this season and 143 for his Serie A career.

Before the game, fans expressed their disapproval of Milan's recent form.

"It's understandable," Ancelotti said. "Milan fans are accustomed to seeing their team play well."


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