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October 31, 2009

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Home » Sports » Soccer

Inter opens up four-point lead

INTER Milan responded to Juventus with a five-goal performance of its own on Thursday, beating Palermo 5-3 to open up a four-point lead over its Turin rival in the Serie A.

Juventus routed Sampdoria 5-1 on Wednesday.

Samuel Eto'o and Mario Balotelli scored twice for Inter, which led 4-0 at halftime, and Diego Milito came off the bench to add a late goal.

Fabrizio Miccoli had two goals for Palermo, and forward Abel Mathias Platero Hernandez also scored for the visitors.

Inter has 25 points, Juventus 21, Sampdoria 20 and freshly promoted Parma was fourth with 17.

Palermo has 15 points.

"It was a game that should have been over (at halftime)," Inter coach Jose Mourinho said, complimenting the way Palermo manager Walter Zenga motivated his team at halftime. "Palermo had a fantastic reaction and my team lost a bit of its calm."

Zenga was a former Inter goalkeeper, and Mourinho said on Wednesday that he would like him to be his successor at Inter.

Eto'o opened the scoring with a penalty in the seventh minute. Balotelli was fouled to earn the spot kick and the 19-year-old wanted to take the penalty. Inter captain Javier Zanetti had to intervene and ushered Balotelli away, prompting the teenager to turn his back for Eto'o's kick. Balotelli then thought twice and went over to hug Eto'o.

Having regained his focus, Balotelli scored with headers in the 34th and 42nd, then set up Eto'o's second goal in the 44th.

"The important thing is he played well for us," Mourinho said.

Milito profited from Maicon's well-earned cross from the right flank to score in the 83rd after Palermo had drawn within one.

Fabio Simplicio set up Miccoli's first score with a long pass in the 49th and the diminutive forward had an easy time getting around defender Walter Samuel. Hernandez made it 4-2 in the 61st following a pass from midfielder Mattia Cassani and Miccoli scored again in the 67th, with Cassani again providing the setup.

Eto'o exited with an apparent injury in the 74th.

In Spain, Villarreal was held to a 1-1 draw by 10-man Puertollano in a Copa del Rey fourth-round match.

A second-half goal from French midfielder Robert Pires saved Villarreal's blushes against the third-division team, although the result puts further pressure on coach Ernesto Valverde.

In other Copa games, Valladolid beat Mallorca 2-1 and Salamanca beat Racing Santander 1-0.


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