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Juventus catch Milan ahead of title showdown
Updated: 2005-05-02 08:23

Juventus beat Bologna 2-1 to draw level with AC Milan at the top of Serie A, seven days before the two title-chasers meet in a crunch Scudetto showdown at the San Siro.

Juventus' forward Marcelo Zalayeta (L) vies with Bologna's defender Nicola Legrottaglie (R), during their italian serie A football match Juventus-Bologna at Delle Alpi stadium in Turin. Juve won 2-1.(AFP)

Milan threw down the gauntlet to Juventus by winning by the same score at Fiorentina on Saturday that saw them open up a three point advantage on their championship rivals.

But Juventus responded with an equally narrow victory in Turin that would have been far easier had their strikers been more clinical in front of goal and Bologna keeper Gianluca Pagliuca not been in such irresistible form.

Juventus and Milan both have 76 points from their 34 matches played with four games of the season left.

Juve defender Fabio Cannavaro, who is currently at the centre of a new drug row in Italy, opened the scoring in the 18th minute, leaping high at the back post to head home Mauro Camoranesi's right-wing cross.

On Thursday state broadcaster RAI showed a film in which Cannavaro is seen being administered a heart-strengthening drug - which is not on the world anti-doping agency's list of banned substances - on the eve of the 1999 UEFA Cup final, when he was playing for Parma.

Juventus increased their lead six minutes later with an almost identical goal, but this time it was Marcelo Zalayeta's head that supplied the finish to Camoranesi's delivery.

Federico Giunti's curling free-kick reduced the arrears for Bologna in the 27th minute, but the visitors rarely looked like leaving the Delle Alpi stadium with a point.

Inter Milan strengthened their position in third place with a 2-0 home win over lowly Siena at the San Siro where an early Julio Cruz penalty and a Christian Vieri header secured the points.

Udinese climbed into fourth place above Sampdoria on goal difference after a 2-1 home win over bottom club Atalanta. Sampdoria drew 2-2 at Messina.

Palermo remain sixth on 49 points, seven adrift of Udinese and Sampdoria, after drawing 2-2 at home to Chievo, for whom a point lifted them out of the bottom three.

Vincenzo Montella missed a late penalty as Roma failed to ease their relegation fears with a 2-2 home draw against fellow strugglers Brescia.

UEFA Cup semi-finalists Parma won a 10-goal thriller at home to Livorno that moved them out of the drop zone.

Alberto Gilardino scored four goals for Parma and Cristiano Lucarelli did the same for the visitors in a 6-4 victory for the Emilia Romagna club.

Tommaso Rocchi netted a hat-trick for Lazio, but still ended up a loser as the Rome side went down 5-3 at Lecce.

Lecce's Mirko Vucinic also grabbed a treble to take his total for the season to 15.

On Saturday, Andriy Shevchenko scored twice in 10 second-half minutes as Milan came from behind to beat relegation-threatened Fiorentina for their first victory in Florence for 10 years.

The sharp-shooting European Footballer of the Year supplied the finishing touch to two left-wing crosses from Brazilian wing-back Serginho to take his league tally to 16 from 27 matches.

Milan's victory raised their morale ahead of the second leg of their Champions League semi-final against PSV Eindhoven next Wednesday. Milan won the first leg 2-0.

Fiorentina's 14th defeat of the season saw drop to second from bottom, four points clear of Atalanta and one behind Brescia.

Three teams will be relegated to Serie B.

In Saturday's early match, Cagliari were held to a 1-1 draw at home to Reggina.

Italian football league table after Sunday's matches (played, won, drawn, lost, goals for, goals against, points):

AC Milan 34 23 7 4 57 21 76

Juventus 34 23 7 4 58 23 76

Inter Milan 34 15 17 2 60 37 62

Udinese 34 16 8 10 52 37 56

Sampdoria 34 16 8 10 38 27 56

Palermo 34 12 13 9 41 37 49

Messina 34 11 11 12 39 46 44

Livorno 34 11 10 13 43 50 43

Cagliari 34 10 12 12 47 53 42

Lecce 34 10 11 13 59 63 41

Lazio 34 11 8 15 44 48 41

Bologna 34 9 13 12 31 32 40

Roma 34 10 10 14 53 56 40

Reggina 34 10 10 14 32 41 40

Parma 34 9 10 15 43 59 37

Siena 34 7 15 12 36 50 36

Chievo 34 9 9 16 29 47 36

Brescia 34 9 8 17 33 46 35

Fiorentina 34 7 13 14 36 48 34

Atalanta 34 7 10 17 31 41 31

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