Milan three points clear


AC MILAN extended their lead to three points in the Italian League yesterday with a 2-0 defeat of Udinese while both their closest rivals Fiorentina and Parma could only draw.

Milan's 2-0 victory over Udinese came courtesy of Italian international defender Paolo Maldini in the 45th minute, following a goalkeeping error, and Croatian midfielder Zvonimir Boban on the hour.

They hold a three point lead over Fiorentina who failed to capitalise on an early lead at home to Vicenza.

Argentinian Gabriel Batistuta scored his 14th of the season, to remain the league's joint top scorer with Bari's Igor Protti, in the sixth minute. However, Vicenza equalised in the 46th minute through veteran defender Domenico Di Carlo.

Parma are five points behind after drawing 1-1 away at Inter Milan. The home side dominated the game thanks to a masterly midfield display by England's Paul Ince.

More remarkable, and evidence of Ince's growing importance to Inter, is that he played only after being given a pain killing injection.

Parma could not add to Bulgarian star Hristo Stoichkov's goal in the sixth minute and paid the penalty. Inter's journeyman striker Marco Branca equalised in the 82nd minute.

Meanwhile, Lazio's Pierluigi Casiraghi stole the goalscoring honours with a hat trick in his team's 4-0 demolition of Cagliari.

The Rome side, whose inconsistent form has led to calls for Czech coach Zdenek Zeman to be sacked, seized control with three goals in seven minutes.

Casiraghi's fellow Italian international Giuseppe Signori, dropped from Arrigo Sacchi's recent national squad, opened the scoring in the 27th minute. Casiraghi (26), netted twice in the 28th and 34th minutes.

Cagliari, coached by former Juventus and Inter Milan coach Giovanni Trapattoni, restricted the rampant Casiraghi to just one goal, his ninth of the season, in the second half.

Atalanta breathed a huge sigh of relief after winning their first match in eight games. They beat Roma 2-1 after going a goal down.