MILAN: Serie A leaders AC Milan lost 1-0 to 10-man Udinese, while Lazio’s 17-match unbeaten run ended on Sunday with a surprise 1-0 defeat at home to lowly Reggina.
Inter Milan moved level on points with local rivals AC Milan after a second half hat-trick from Christian Vieri gave them a 3-0 win over Empoli.
Juventus, mourning the death of their former president Gianni Agnelli, moved above Lazio into third place after a comfortable 2-0 home win over Piacenza with first-half goals from Alessandro Del Piero and Pavel Nedved.
Piacenza had defender Alessandro Rinaldi sent off in the 38th minute for a second bookable offence.
Juventus are now just a point behind the Milan duo who are tied on 39 points.
Fifth-placed Chievo fell to a 1-0 defeat at Perugia – the Verona club’s third defeat inside a week.
Milan never found their rhythm at Udine and fell behind in the 37th minute when captain Paolo Maldini handled inside the area and David Pizzaro converted the penalty.
Carlo Ancelotti’s side were given a boost two minutes after the break when Udinese’s Argentine defender Nestor Sensini was harshly sent off for a push on Filippo Inzaghi.
Inzaghi had a goal ruled out for offside as Milan searched for an equaliser, but the visitors’ headlong attacks lacked the necessary finesse to open up a well-organised defence.
Udinese, who are unbeaten in their nine home games this season, moved up to sixth place.
Roberto Mancini’s Lazio had not lost since their opening day setback against Chievo and their title bid suffered a blow with defeat to 15th-placed Reggina.
After a poor first half, Reggina scored within a minute of the restart when Emiliano Bonazzoli, making his debut on loan from Parma, robbed Jaap Stam, burst down the left flank and fired inside goalkeeper Angelo Peruzzi’s near post.
Inter gave a first outing to Argentine striker Gabriel Batistuta following his move from AS Roma but the former Fiorentina forward was overshadowed by his strike partner Vieri.
Vieri’s three goals, all from close range, came after a first half in which Inter had struggled and lost their midfielder Mattias Almeyda.
The Argentine was stretchered off in the 19th minute after a challenge from Ighli Vannuchi and the club later said he had suffered a suspected broken leg.
Vieri put Inter ahead in the 69th minute when he tapped home after Empoli goalkeeper Gianluca Berti had half blocked a shot from Batistuta.
Four minutes later the Italy international had doubled the advantage heading in on the goal line after a scramble from a corner.
Vieri completed his hat-trick five minutes from the end with another simple chance after Berti let a harmless cross from Javier Zanetti slip under his body and left Vieri to tap into an unguarded goal from a metre out.
All games in Italy observed a minute’s silence in memory of Fiat patriarch Agnelli, who died on Friday aged 81, but nowhere was the feeling stronger than at Juve’s Delle Alpi Stadium.
Agnelli was effectively at the helm of the Turin club for over half a century and a Juve shirt was placed over his empty seat in the directors’ box.
On the field Juventus took the lead in the 10th minute with Agnelli’s personal favourite, Alessandro Del Piero, scoring with a superbly taken volley.
Del Piero did not celebrate his goal, preferring to jog silently back to the halfway line.
After Piacenza were reduced to 10 men following the dismissal of Rinaldi, Czech midfielder Pavel Nedved added the second with a smart lob after his initial shot was blocked by Piacenza goalkeeper Paolo Orlandoni. – Reuters