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Cash-strapped Lazio go to top

Milan: Lazio took over at the top of Serie A on Sunday after a 3-2 comeback win at Piacenza while rivals Juventus fought back for a 2-2 draw at AS Roma and AC Milan also drew at Empoli.

But just a point separates the top four as Inter Milan ended a three-match winless run in the league with a 4-0 crushing of Brescia with Christian Vieri scoring all four goals.

Cash-strapped Lazio, who are up for sale, lead on 27 points with Milan, Juventus and Inter all following on 26.

Three players were sent off in the final minutes in Rome where Juventus came back from two goals behind to earn a point against Fabio Capello’s side.

Juve’s Alessandro Birindelli and Roma’s French wing-back Vincent Candela were dismissed three minutes from the end for wild challenges and then two minutes later Roma captain Francesco Totti was red-carded for dissent. It was an ugly end to what had been an entertaining game.

Totti had put Roma ahead in the 12th minute with a left-foot finish and then he produced a delightful back-heel flick to put Antonio Cassano through and the latter rounded Gianluigi Buffon to double Roma’s advantage in the 44th minute.

But before the break Alessandro Del Piero brought Juve back into the game with a near-post header from a corner and Marcello Lippi’s side tried to maintain their unbeaten record in the second half.

Roma ’keeper Francesco Antonioli did well to block from Marco di Vaio in the 70th minute after a dreadful back-header from Roma’s French defender Jonathan Zebina had gifted the Juve striker a free shot.

Five minutes from time, Pavel Nedved grabbed the equaliser with a rasping left-footer before tempers became frayed.

Lazio’s victory at Piacenza maintains their 100 percent away record and the Rome side have not lost since an opening day home defeat to Chievo in September.

Piacenza went ahead in the 18th minute with a stunning strike from over 25 metres out from midfielder Enzo Maresca. Nicola Caccia doubled the advantage for the home side nine minutes later but then Lazio fought back to level terms by the break.

Three minutes before the interval Argentine midfielder Diego Simeone headed in a corner and then his compatriot Claudio Lopez equalised with a close-range effort. Deep into injury time Corradi headed home to complete the turn-around.

If that was a great team display from Lazio then it was a one-man show at the San Siro with Vieri at his devastating best against struggling Brescia.

Vieri fired Inter ahead in just the third minute with a powerful strike from the edge of the penalty area. Ten minutes later he headed in a corner from Turkish midfielder Emre and Vieri completed his hat-trick 12 minutes after the break with a smart back-header after Luigi Di Biagio had lofted the ball into the box.

Vieri’s fourth came six minutes from time when Hernan Crespo mishit a shot and the ball fell kindly to Vieri, possibly in an offside position, who made no mistake from close range. (Reuters)

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