MILAN - Juventus cut the gap with Serie A leaders Inter Milan back to six points with a hard-fought 3-1 win at Atalanta on Sunday. Third-placed AC Milan also racked up an important victory ahead of the mid-season break, thrashing Udinese 5-1 at home with January loan signing David Beckham watching in the stands. Juve's Alessandro Del Piero and Nicola Legrottaglie put the visitors 2-0 up before former Juve striker Christian Vieri pulled one back with a header just after the break. Determined Atalanta searched for an equaliser but Amauri's bullet header eight minutes from time ended their hopes. "It was a well-deserved and hard-earned victory," Juve coach Claudio Ranieri told reporters. "I knew it wouldn't be easy away to Atalanta." Marco Marchionni was offside when he crossed for Del Piero's opener just like Maicon was when he scored the 83rd-minute winner in Inter's fortunate 2-1 victory at Siena on Saturday. Injury-ravaged Milan, three behind Juve, quickly took control of an extremely open contest in the late game. Brazilian forward Alexandre Pato scored twice from close range and set up compatriot Kaka for another tap-in with Antonio Di Natale also netting for Udinese in a frantic first 18 minutes. FIORENTINA FOURTH Clarence Seedorf slid home after Andrea Pirlo's free-kick hit the post just before the interval and Kaka blasted in from 20 metres early in the second period. Beckham, who is joining Milan for two months from Los Angeles Galaxy to stay in contention for an England place, appeared on the pitch before kickoff to wave to the San Siro crowd. He then took his place in the stand alongside wife Victoria. Fiorentina moved up to fourth thanks to Riccardo Montolivo's crisp strike in a 1-0 win at Sampdoria. The Florence side were helped up the table by suspension-hit Napoli losing 1-0 at struggling Torino and dropping to fifth. Torino are now a point above the drop zone. Mid-table AS Roma, who had won five league games in a row after a poor start, lost 3-2 at Catania with Japanese forward Takayuki Morimoto confidently scoring twice for the Sicilians. Roma drew 1-1 at Catania on the final day of last season when they lost the title to Inter and bad blood between the clubs was apparent at fulltime with skirmishes on the pitch and in the tunnel. Francesco Totti also went off injured early on. Serie A resumes from the mid-season break on January 10 and 11.
21 December 2008
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