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© AP, Jan 22, 2012

Serie A is a 4-way race at the season's midpoint


ROME(AP) AC Milan, Udinese and Inter Milan each won Sunday to join Juventus in what is turning into a rare four-way race for the Serie A title at the Italian season's midpoint.

Milan won 3-0 at last-place Novara with two goals from Zlatan Ibrahimovic and another from Robinho; Pablo Armero and Antonio Di Natale found the net to steer Udinese to a 2-1 victory over Catania; and Inter came from behind to beat Lazio 2-1 with goals from Diego Milito and Giampaolo Pazzini for its seventh consecutive victory.

Juventus, which beat Atalanta 2-0 Saturday, holds a one-point lead over Milan and is three points in front of unsung Udinese, which has never finished higher than third.

Inter, which was once 15 points back, now trails by six points after having leapfrogged Lazio into fourth place.

Udinese have a strong spine in Asamoah (L), Isla and Armaro (R)
© AP Images

For the most part, the Serie A title race has been a two-team affair in recent seasons, with Inter winning five consecutive championships from 2006-10 and Milan taking the title last year.

''We needed to get three points after losing the derby,'' Milan coach Massimiliano Allegri said, referring to last weekend's 1-0 defeat to Inter. ''We've got 40 points, which is what we had last year after the first half of the season. Juve has done better and they've got one more point but there are 19 matches to go. I'm pleased with what the lads are doing.''

Next weekend, Udinese visits Juventus.

''I don't know how long we'll last because we're spending a huge amount of energy, but I realize that we're turning logic upside down because usually in football whoever invests the most wins,'' said Udinese coach Francesco Guidolin. ''We're only halfway through the season and it won't be easy for us, but we're going to try.''

In other matches, it was: Lecce 2, Chievo Verona 2; Palermo 5, Genoa 3; Siena 1, Napoli 1; and Cagliari 0, Fiorentina 0.

Earlier in the lunchtime fixture, Bologna and Parma played to a 0-0 draw, with Parma captain Stefano Morrone exiting at halftime and heading to the hospital, where his son was being treated for a reported breathing problem.

''There was a moment of panic and we decided to tell Stefano,'' said Parma coach Roberto Donadoni. ''When you're talking about a six-month old baby it's alarming, but it was resolved well.''

The start of the Cagliari-Fiorentina match was delayed by a half hour due to a workers' protest over the closing of an Alcoa aluminum plant. Workers surrounded both the hotel where Fiorentina was staying and Cagliari's training center, forcing both clubs to leave late for the stadium, according to the ANSA news agency.

On Wednesday, Milan needed an extra-time winner from Alexandre Pato to beat Novara in the Italian Cup, and it again looked like the Rossoneri might struggle when Ibrahimovic, Thiago Silva and Stephen El Shaarawy each failed to take advantage of chances in the first half.

Juventus have plenty of experience in winning titles
© AP Images

However, Milan captain Massimo Ambrosini found Ibrahimovic all alone in front of the goal for an easy finish in the 57th, Robinho scored from close-range in the 73rd and Ibrahimovic found the target again in the 90th off a rebound to tie with Di Natale as the league's leading scorer with 14 goals each.

In Udine, the hosts took control when Colombian winger Pablo Armero finished off a counterattack in the 19th, and Armero then provided the cross when Di Natale scored with a volley in the 53rd.

Francesco Lodi pulled one back for Catania with a penalty in the fifth minute of added time.

At the San Siro, Lazio took the lead with an angled shot from captain Tommaso Rocchi in the 30th. Milito equalized in the 44th after receiving a pass from Ricardo Alvarez for his fifth goal in four games - having scored the derby winner a week ago.

Pazzini hit the winner this time, collecting a long headed pass from Lucio and splitting the offside trap before lobbing a shot over the 'keeper in the 63rd.

In Siena, former Napoli forward Emanuele Calaio put the hosts in front with a header in the 67th and goalkeeper Gianluca Pegolo made an impressive save to stop a penalty from Napoli forward Edinson Cavani in the 79th. However, Napoli still equalized with a header from forward Goran Pandev in the 86th.

In Sicily, Palermo forward Fabrizio Miccoli set up three goals and scored another.

After Rodrigo Palacio had put Genoa in front in the 13th, Igor Budan, Matias Silvestre and Andrea Mantovani struck back for Palermo. Palacio then converted a penalty in the 59th to make it 3-2, Miccoli scored in the 75th to restore Palermo's two-goal lead and Giulio Migliaccio added another by meeting a free kick from Miccoli with a header in the 84th.

In Lecce, Chievo went ahead with two early goals from Alberto Paloschi and Lecce equalized with strikes by Andrea Esposito in the 30th and David Di Michele in the third minute of second-half added time.


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