Saturday, November 13, 2010

Gilardino pushes host Fiorentina past Cesena, 1-0


FIRENZE, Italia -- This season hasn't been altogether kind to injury-ravaged Fiorentina, which at one point in October was dead last in Serie A.

After a 1-0 victory over Cesena Saturday night at the Stadio Artemio Franchi, the Viola have climbed back to the top half of the table.

Alberto Gilardino scored in the
59th minute for the hosts, who lost striker Adrian Mutu in the 41st minute and remain without captain Riccardo Montolivo, starting goalkeeper Sebastien Frey, Cristiano Zanetti and Stefan Jovetic.

Gilardino's goal, his fifth of the season and second in as many matches, was nothing short of beautiful. He took Alessio Cerci's cross in the box, spun and fired top drawer into the left side past Cesena goalie Francesco Antonioli.

Despite it being the slimmest of possible leads, the one-goal margin seemed to be more than enough for Fiorentina keeper Artur Boruc for the remainder of the second half. Cesena mounted only a couple of legitimate scoring chances, with Ivan Fatic's long shot going well high in the 76th minute and Emanuele Giaccherini's 85th-minute shot deflected wide left.

Fiorentina missed out on a couple of chances to extend its lead when Gaetano D'Agostino took substitute Adam Ljajic's pass in front of the goal but shot very high, and Gianluca Comotto's header off a corner was just a touch too high.

Cesena has now lost four of its last five and sits 19th in the standings.

NOTES: Neither Fiorentina nor Cesena has won on the road this season. ... The Viola return to action Saturday night at league leaders AC Milan. Cesena hosts Palermo next Sunday afternoon.


Photo above: Alberto Gilardino celebrates after scoring Saturday. (La Repubblica)

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Roma beats city rival, league leader Lazio, 2-0


AS Roma came into this season with high expectations but has looked a bit lost at times, coming into the Derby della Capitale against hated Lazio in ninth place in Serie A.

A pair of successful penalty kicks helped the Giallorossi pick up a key victory against their top-of-the-table rival.

Marco Borriello and Mirko Vucinic each converted from the spot in the second half as AS Roma defeated Lazio 2-0 in Rome on Sunday.

Borriello scored the winner in the 52nd minute. Lazio's Stephan Lichtsteiner deflected Fabio Simplicio's shot with his wrist to put Borriello on the spot. Lazio goalkeeper Fernando Muslera guessed correctly, diving to his left, but Borriello's shot caromed off Muslera and across the goal line.

Vucinic provided the final margin with three minutes of regulation time left, finding the net after his teammate Julio Baptista was brought down by Andre Dias in the box. This time Muslera guessed wrong; he dove left while Vucinic was deftly sending the ball the other direction into an unguarded net. Vucinic then ripped off his shirt and ran to celebrate, earning a yellow card, but by then it didn't much matter.

The Biancoceleste didn't make much noise at all offensively, and their best chances to score were thwarted by stellar goalkeeping from Julio Sergio, who stopped a Cristian Ledesma free kick in the 48th minute and Hernanes' 65th-minute shot inside the area. Lazio's Pasquale Foggia's shot from extremely close range in the 83rd minute hit the crossbar.

Five minutes earlier, Lazio was denied an opportunity when Roma's John Arne Riise brought down Stefano Mauri on a set-piece play about two yards from the goal, but despite five Lazio players simultaneously crowding and yelling at referee Emidio Morganti, no foul was called.

Second-place AC Milan beat Bari 3-2, cutting Lazio's lead to two points. Roma is seven points back, tied for fifth place.

NOTES: Lazio had won seven of its last nine matches and hadn't lost since Aug. 29. ... Roma has won five of seven derbies. ... Although technically the away side in this match, Roma is unbeaten at the Stadio Olimpico in six league matches this year. ... Lazio star Hernanes promised before the game he would score but did not, being lifted for a substitute in the 72nd minute. ... Rodrigo Taddei, David Pizarro, Matteo Brighi and Stefano Okaka missed the match due to injury for Roma, and Mourad Meghni and Alberto Quadri were out for Lazio. Francesco Totti of Roma and Lazio's Giuseppe Biava also missed due to suspension. ... Roma next hosts Fiorentina Wednesday night. Lazio is at Cesena Wednesday.


Photo above: AS Roma's Marco Cassetti, center, and Marco Borriello celebrate after Borriello's goal Sunday. (La Repubblica)

Video credit -- Sky Sports

Monday, November 1, 2010

Renteria, Lincecum, Giants beat Texas to win World Series


With one mighty swing of the bat, Edgar Renteria has made everyone forget his struggles over the last two years and reprised his old role as World Series-winning hero.

He, Tim Lincecum and the Giants are the best in the baseball world for the first time in 56 years and the first time since the Giants moved west to San Francisco.

Series MVP Renteria stunned Texas ace Cliff Lee with a three-run seventh-inning bomb, Lincecum allowed one run and struck out 10 Rangers and the Giants won Game 5 3-1 in Arlington, Texas, Monday night.

Renteria's walk-off single won Game 7 of the 1997 Series for Florida over Cleveland. Thirteen years later, the veteran victimized Lee and Texas to secure another ring for himself and the Giants' first championship since the franchise did it in New York in 1954.

Giants pitching has dominated almost all series long, and Game 5 was no different. Lincecum three-hit Texas over eight innings, beating fellow former Cy Young winner Lee for the second time in the series.

Lincecum and Lee matched scoreless frame for scoreless frame all the way until the top of the seventh, when San Francisco's Cody Ross delivered yet another key hit with a leadoff single up the middle and Juan Uribe singled to center.

Game 4 hero Aubrey Huff then dropped a perfect sacrifice bunt, the first of his career, and one batter later, Renteria drilled a 404-foot shot to left-center for a lead the struggling Texas offense had no chance of overcoming against Lincecum and Giants closer Brian Wilson.

The Rangers' Nelson Cruz finally touched Lincecum for a one-out solo homer in the bottom of the seventh. The next batter, Ian Kinsler, drew a walk, but Lincecum settled in and struck out David Murphy and Bengie Molina, who came to Texas in a midseason trade from the Giants, to end the inning.

Lincecum proceeded to retire Mitch Moreland, Elvis Andrus and Michael Young 1-2-3 in the eighth, and Wilson came on to shut it down in the ninth, striking out Josh Hamilton looking, inducing a groundout from Vladimir Guerrero and striking out Cruz swinging to touch off the celebration in gray, orange and black.

Giants catcher Buster Posey was the only player with a multi-hit night, going 2-for-4.

Meanwhile, Texas' biggest hitters continued to struggle when it mattered most. Hamilton and Guerrero each went 0-for-4 Monday and finished 2-for-20 and 1-for-14, respectively, for the series.

Lee pitched well but found himself the losing pitcher of record for the second time in a week after losing Game 1 Wednesday. Lee, a free agent following this season, allowed three runs on six hits in seven innings, with six strikeouts.

NOTES: San Francisco's Pat Burrell was back in the lineup at designated hitter after sitting out Game 4 but continued to flounder, finishing 0-for-4 with three strikeouts. His series line was 0-for-13 with 11 strikeouts, and he struck out 22 times in the playoffs. ... Lincecum went 4-1 this postseason. ... This was the eighth World Series matchup of former Cy Young winners, including Lee and Lincecum's Game 1 meeting.


Photo above: Edgar Renteria homers in Game 5. (Tony Gutierrez/AP)

Audio credit -- San Francisco Giants Radio Network