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Juventus drop points after Serie A leader Inter Milan loses at Atalanta

JUVENTUS missed a great chance to close the gap to league leaders Inter Milan to just one point yesterday, drawing away to Lazio after Inter had lost 3-1 at Atalanta earlier in the day.

Juventus struggled to find their form and needed an Olof Mellberg goal to earn a point that leaves them three points behind Jose Mourinho's side.

Inter lead the standings with 43 points, Juventus are now on 40, AC Milan are third with 37 and Genoa are fourth on 35.

Cristian Ledesma gave Lazio the lead when Juventus goalkeeper Alex Manninger misjudged his freekick from the left and allowed it to go over his head and inside the far post.

Goran Pandev should then have doubled the lead. Tommaso Rocchi's shot was stopped by Manninger, but Pandev could only blast the ball over the unguarded goal.

Five minutes later Olof Mellberg punished Lazio's wastefulness by heading Juventus level from a corner by Alessandro Del Piero.

In the second half both sides struggled to create chances and even the introduction of Juventus' prodigy Sebastian Giovinco was unable to improve Claudio Ranieri's side, who relied on Pavel Nedved for inspiration.

In the last minute Pasquale Foggia had a great chance to give the home side the win, but was unable to reach Tomasso Rocchi's low cross from the left.

Despite dropping two points Juventus defender Nicola Legrottaglie said that there were positives to take from the game and for the future.

"It was a hard game, but we were better in the second half than the first. Obviously we wanted more, but we need to improve. But Inter need to watch out, we are still hungry."

Atalanta's win over Inter was the big surprise of the day.

Cristiano Doni scored twice for Atalanta, which controlled the game from the start as Inter struggled without the injured Patrick Vieira and Marco Materazzi.

Doni came close to scoring in the eighth minute when he volleyed wide from inside the area. Instead, Sergio Floccari gave Atalanta the lead in the 18th, when he reacted quickest to Cristiano Doni's header and turned defender Maxwell to shoot low beyond goalkeeper Julio Cesar.

"Today there were 30 minutes that don't need any comment, in which we gave away stupid, ridiculous goals," Inter coach Jose Mourinho said. "One of my players put the ball right on Floccari's toes. He had his back to the goal, but one of our defenders allowed him to turn and shoot."

Doni doubled the lead with a free kick in the 28th which deflected off Zlatan Ibrahimovic to leave Cesar flat-footed. Five minutes later, Doni rose above Inter's defense to head in a cross from Jaime Valdes.

"All week we have spoken about Doni and how he arrives in certain positions and how he is good in the air," Mourinho said. "But he arrived between two defenders, which we shouldn't see."

Ibrahimovic scored for Inter in the 90th, but the defending champions never looked likely to stage a comeback, despite Mourinho bringing on Adriano in attack at halftime.

Mourinho said there was no excuse for the poor performance.

"Today was a disaster," he said. "We had to have an emotional reaction, one of a squad that wants to play. Today even those that don't understand football could see that our aggression on the ball and our pressure wasn't there and we didn't have the right attitude."

AS Roma maintained their recent good form by beating Torino 1-0 with Julio Baptista scoring in the last minute with an acrobatic volley.

Roma missed injured captain Francesco Totti's imagination in attack, and created few chances before scoring.

Daniele De Rossi took over the captaincy and tried to lead the side from central midfield, but the Roma players frequently gave away possession too easily.

Torino's central defensive pair Cesare Natali and Francesco Pratali comfortably handled Roma's attack of Baptista, Jeremy Menez and Claudio Pizarro until Baptista's moment of inspiration at the end.

Despite struggling to break down Torino, Roma coach Luciano Spalletti was most pleased with another clean sheet.

"I was highly satisfied with the defense because they haven't given away a goal in two matches, but also because they don't give away any space for shots. The whole team also maintained possession of the ball better."

Chievo Verona climbed off the bottom of the table with a 2-1 win over Napoli that pushes Edy Reja's team out of the Champions League places. It was only Chievo's third win of the season and lifts them above Reggina. Michele Marcolini converted two penalties for Chievo, while Ezequiel Lavezzi scored for Napoli.

Also Sunday, it was: Cagliari 2, Udinese 0; Catania 1, Bologna 2; Lecce 0, Genoa 2; and Sampdoria 0, Palermo 2.


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