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Torino slips nearer to danger

TORINO lost a day before the 60th anniversary of the Superga disaster, falling 1-0 to Fiorentina in Serie A yesterday and staying close to relegation.

Juan Vargas scored the only goal of the match in the 57th minute to leave Torino one point ahead of the three relegation places. Fiorentina's wins keeps it in the fourth Champions League place.

On May 4, 1949, 18 Torino players died when their plane crashed into the Superga Basilica on a hill overlooking Turin.

Juventus was held to a 2-2 draw by 19th-place Lecce.

Lecce took the lead when Axel Konan scored, but Juventus rallied in the second half and Pavel Nedved scored twice, but Jose Castillo headed in a late equalizer for Lecce.

AC Milan remains second, seven points behind league leader Inter Milan, following a 2-0 win at Catania after goals from Filippo Inzaghi and Kaka.

Inter, which beat Lazio 2-0 Saturday, leads the league with 77 points, followed by Milan with 70, Juventus with 66 and Fiorentina with 61.

Fiorentina could have been in the lead before halftime, but midfielder Martin Jorgensen shot over the bar in front of an open goal after Torino goalkeeper Matteo Sereni failed to clear the ball.

Vargas' goal came when he ran onto a long ball over the defense from Zdravko Kuzmanovic and dribbled around Sereni to score.

Torino thought defender Ivan Franceschini had equalized in the last minute, when he put the ball in the net following a goalmouth scramble, but the linesman ruled it out for offside.

Sereni was then sent off for handling the ball outside the area.

Juventus' directors kept the team and management behind in the locker rooms for half an hour after the match to discuss the current malaise that has resulted in only three points being taken from the last 12 available.

Coach Claudio Ranieri said he wasn't sure what the future would hold for him if the poor displays continue over the last four games of the season.

"The four remaining matches will decide the future," he said. "A coach always tries to put his best team on the field, but you take responsibility when things don't go well.

"Of course I want to stay at Juventus, I would miss it. But if someone has made mistakes, as the fans say, then I'll have to leave."

Lecce took a surprise lead in the 11th minute. Giullermo Giacomazzi ran from his own half, slipped the ball through the Juventus defense and Konan calmly controlled the ball and shot low under Gianluigi Buffon.

After halftime, Nedved quickly brought Juventus back into the match by shooting low from the edge of the area. He added his second midway through the half when he controlled Marco Marchionni's long pass and scored again.

However, in injury time Dimitris Papadopoulos crossed from the left for Castillo to head home at the far post for a crucial point.

"We have to do all we can to hold onto this position," Ranieri said. "We have to hold onto this place and qualify for the Champions League. That is our overwhelming objective.

"A month ago we were looking forward to a good finish to the season, but these things (bad performances) haven't happened by accident."

Kaka was again Milan's inspiration in the win over Catania. He set up the first goal and scored the second.

For the first, the Brazilian ran from deep, picked out Inzaghi in the box and the veteran striker poked his 13th goal of the season past goalkeeper Tomas Kosicky.

Soon after halftime, Kaka added Milan's second after David Beckham had headed back Massimo Ambrosini's cross.

He nearly added a third, but instead watched his shot rebound off the post.

"The team is playing really well at the moment and playing with enthusiasm," Milan coach Carlo Ancelotti said. "We had a difficult time in the first half, but we played well, kept the ball down and moved well."

In the late match, Diego Milito scored a hattrick to give Genoa a 3-1 win over Sampdoria in the Genoa derby. Hugo Campagnaro scored for Sampdoria.

With the win Genoa maintains the pressure on fourth-placed Fiorentina, which is just one point ahead.

Also yesterday, it was: Palermo 5, Cagliari 1; AS Roma 0, Chievo Verona 0; Siena 2, Napoli 1; and Udinese 3, Atalanta 0.


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