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Serie A: Inter win, Napoli, Milan held to draws

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Associated Press

Last Updated: November 20, 2011, 06:50 IST

Serie A: Inter win, Napoli, Milan held to draws

Lazio moved one point clear at the top of Serie A with a 0-0 draw at Napoli.

Rome: Lazio moved one point clear at the top of Serie A with a 0-0 draw at Napoli and AC Milan stayed within one point of the lead with another scoreless draw at Fiorentina on Saturday.

Earlier, Inter Milan beat Cagliari 2-1 for just their third win of the Italian season, with second-half goals from Thiago Motta and Coutinho.

The victory at the San Siro lifted the Nerazzurri three points clear of the relegation zone, with a game in hand.

Still, Inter are 11 points behind Lazio, who have 22. Milan and Udinese are next with 21 each, and Juventus are fourth with 19.

Udinese will have a chance to go top again when they visit Parma on Sunday, while Juventus can draw level with Lazio when they host Palermo.

Lazio were missing their injured leading scorer Miroslav Klose. Napoli created more chances but couldn't beat Lazio goalkeeper Federico Marchetti, who made outstanding saves.

"We showed a lot of character," said Lazio coach Edy Reja. "The first half we played well, then in the second Napoli put us in danger, especially at the end, but Marchetti was extraordinary. Not allowing a goal at Napoli is a good sign."

Napoli have a decisive match with Manchester City in the Champions League on Tuesday, while Milan host European champions Barcelona a day later.

Milan had won five straight and deserved to win another, as the Rossoneri had a goal from Clarence Seedorf waved off for a questionable offside call in the 19th minute. Milan striker Alexandre Pato returned from a two-month injury lay-off and hit the post in the 77th, with Alberto Aquilani and Antonio Nocerino also producing chances for the visitors.

"The goal was legitimate," Milan coach Massimiliano Allegri said. "Our five-match winning streak has been snapped but the important thing was we performed well."

Fiorentina were without their stand-out playmaker Stevan Jovetic and Delio Rossi made his debut as the Viola manager after replacing Sinisa Mihajlovic.

At the San Siro, Inter hit the crossbar twice before taking the lead in the 54th following a free kick from Ricardo Alvarez. Giampaolo Pazzini flicked the ball on to Thiago Motta, whose goal from the edge of the box was allowed despite appearing offside.

Coutinho was a last-minute starter after usual playmaker Wesley Sneijder reported a muscle problem during the warm-up, and the Brazilian took full advantage when he finished off a swift counter-attack with a low shot from the edge of the area in the 60th.

Forward Joaquin Larrivey then pulled one back for Cagliari in the 88th by redirecting a pass from the center of the area, as the Sardinian club showed resilience in their first match under new manager Davide Ballardini.

Cagliari goalkeeper Michael Agazzi deflected shots from Pazzini and Mauro Zarate off the crossbar in the 21st and 24th, and Inter midfielder Esteban Cambiasso sent a dangerous header high in the 43rd as the hosts dominated the first half.

"It was very important after the break to get these three points at home," said Thiago Motta, who was born in Brazil but represents Italy. "We were able to have a decent match against a team that's not easy to play against. We've gone through some tough times and now we've got to continue like this."

On Tuesday, Inter visit Trabzonspor in the Champions League, seeking revenge against the Turkish squad that handed the Nerazzurri a humiliating home defeat on their debut in the top European competition in September.