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Inter praying penalty curse doesn't strike again

Roma, who like Inter have made a stuttering start, host resurgent champions AC Milan in the weekend's other top match.

Inter have conceded five penalties in eight games, the latest in a 1-1 draw at Atalanta on Wednesday. Even though goalkeeper Luca Castellazi saved that last-minute spot-kick, coach Claudio Ranieri was not placated.

"It was highly debatable and given by the linesman - in fact so debatable that the referee didn't award it initially," said Ranieri whose team are 16th with eight points.

"We have to get ourselves out of this situation where everything keeps going wrong for us - fate, individual episodes. Let's hope all this finishes soon.

"Of course it will make headlines that we've had five penalties given against us in eight matches. And not one of them was iron-cast."

Inter's chief executive Ernesto Paolillo said he found it "baffling how easily they can be given against Inter, and yet not be given with the same ease in other games."

"This evening's was very dubious, like all the penalties given against us," Paolillo said.

"As a club we have a lot of respect for referees and we're not going to complain to the people who appoint the referees, but the federation president should act as a guarantor and assess the performances of the referees and linesmen."

Juventus lead with 16 points but that does not mean it is plain sailing for coach Antonio Conte who left Milos Krasic and Alessandro Del Piero out of the team that beat Fiorentina 2-1 on Tuesday.

Director general Giuseppe Marotta backed the decisions, admitting that Krasic had not been at his best, and said Conte had full autonomy.

With Udinese and Lazio one point behind, Juventus, the only unbeaten team, cannot afford any slip-ups. Lazio visit Cagliari and Udinese host Palermo, both on Sunday.

Milan, two points behind Juventus, are the team in form after winning their last three games and scoring 10 goals, including hat-tricks from Kevin-Prince Boateng against Lecce and Antonio Nocerino against Parma on Wednesday.

Roma have 11 points after their 2-1 defeat at Genoa. "I'm not worried about pressure, I just look at the performance and I was happy with that," said Roma coach Luis Enrique.

"We took the game to them for the full 90 minutes."