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Seedorf guides AC Milan to win over Cagliari

CLARENCE Seedorf struck a second-half winner to give AC Milan a 1-0 victory over Cagliari in Serie A action yesterday.

The Dutch midfielder pounced after a defensive mix-up in the Cagliari box and sidefooted home from 12 meters in the 65th minute. Though Seedorf's strike proved decisive, England midfielder David Beckham put transfer talk and a recent calf injury behind him and was Milan's most creative player on the day.

Fiorentina returned to the Champions League places with a 2-1 win at home to Chievo Verona, whilst Genoa maintained its pressure with a 1-0 win at Napoli.

Inter, which beat Bologna on Saturday, leads the standings with 59 points. Juventus, a 2-0 winner at Palermo on Saturday, is second on 50, Milan has 48 in third place and Fiorentina is fourth with 45.

Milan appeared tired after its UEFA Cup match at Werder Bremen on Wednesday night and Cagliari had the better chances early in the match.

"It was a difficult match and we have a lot of problems in attack," coach Carlo Ancelotti said. "We did what we could. We tried to push for the win and we tried to keep going till the end. We had to play the way we played, we couldn't do anything else."

Beckham was Milan's biggest threat, with Filippo Inzaghi and Marek Jankulovski both narrowly failing to connect with crosses from the England midfielder in the first half.

But it was Cagliari's Andrea Cossu who came closest to scoring in the first period after Robert Acquafresca laid the ball into his path and his long range effort forced Christian Abbiati to tip the ball over the bar.

Cossu went even closer in the second half with a low shot that rebounded off the inside of the post.

Like Milan, Fiorentina was showing the effects of its UEFA Cup match on Thursday, but another last-minute goal by Adrian Mutu secured victory. Mutu also scored in the 90th minute last weekend, completing a hat-trick to earn Fiorentina an unlikely 3-3 draw with Genoa after trailing 3-0.

"It is a period where we are not brilliant and are making hard work of raising the tempo," coach Cesare Prandelli said. "But the team showed a lot of character in the way they responded (to going a goal behind).

Prandelli's side fell behind on 13 minutes. Mario Yepes reached Vincenzo Italiano's corner first and his header fell to Santiago Morero who hammered the ball home from close range.

Alberto Gilardino brought Fiorentina back into the match on 73 minutes, heading in Emiliano Bonnazoli's cross.

When Italiano was sent off for two yellow cards with less than 10 minutes remaining Fiorentina increased the pressure and Mutu scored the winner with a low shot from the edge of the area from a Bonnazoli pull back.

Against Napoli, Genoa appeared to be suffering from its failure to hold onto that three-goal lead at home to Fiorentina a week earlier.

Gianpaolo Gasperini's side missed the suspended Giuseppe Sculli and in the first half failed to create any decent chances for leading scorer Diego Milito.

Napoli was equally uninspiring and, despite its attacking trident of Marek Hamsik, German Denis and Ezequiel Lavezzi, failed to show any of the exuberance that had put the club into the European places earlier in the season.

However, on 69 minutes, Bosko Jankovic broke into the area and slotted the ball past Napoli goalkeeper Nicolas Navarro.

"I'm very happy. It was a difficult match," Gasperini said. "We were coming off two games where we won only one point. Today we produced a great reaction."

Also yesterday, it was: Catania 2, Reggina 0; Lecce 0, Lazio 2; Sampdoria 1, Atalanta 0; and Torino 1, Udinese 0.


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