Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Pato's magic puts Milan five points clear

AC Milan goalscorers Alexandre Pato and Kevin-Prince Boateng celebrate the latter's strike against Napoli.

Pato's magic puts Milan five points clear

(CNN) -- AC Milan moved five points clear in Italy's Serie A after a 3-0 win at home to title rivals Napoli on Monday.

Massimiliano Allegri's team restored their advantage over defending champions Inter Milan, who won 2-0 at Sampdoria on Sunday with goals by Samuel Eto'o and Wesley Sneijder.

Napoli remained in third place, six points off the pace, after conceding a controversial penalty four minutes after halftime to go behind in front of 77,000 supporters at the San Siro.

Salvatore Aronica was ruled to have deliberately handled after the ball hit his raised arm in a decision that infuriated the visiting team.

Sweden striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic stepped up and buried a low shot into the corner for his 14th league goal this season, and Milan took the initiative.

Brazil striker Alexandre Pato laid on the second goal for substitute Kevin-Prince Boateng with 13 minutes to play.

The Ghana midfielder, who replaced Robinho just after an hour, arrived at the near post to flick Pato's well-judged low cross into the net.

And the 21-year-old sealed victory two minutes later on another counter-attack with a superb curling right-footed effort after Ibrahimovic's run created space for him to shoot.

Meanwhile, Palermo appointed Serse Cosmi as coach on Monday after sacking Delio Rossi following the previous day's home 7-0 thrashing by Udinese.

Former Brescia, Udinese and Genoa coach Cosmi has been out of work since being sacked by Livorno at the end of last season.

Rossi guided Palermo to fifth place last season after taking over in November 2009, but Sunday's defeat left the club in eighth -- seven points behind fifth-placed Udinese and 18 off top spot.

In England, West Bromwich Albion moved out of the Premier League's relegation zone on Monday after snatching a 1-1 draw at mid-table Stoke as substitute Carlos Vela scored for the second match in a row.

Stoke led when Rory Delap headed home Jermaine Pennant's corner eight minutes after halftime, but on-loan Mexico forward Vela found space to collect Steven Reid cross and fire past keeper Amir Begovic despite cries of offside from the home players.

The result left Stoke in 10th place, while West Brom moved a point above local rivals Wolves.

In Spain, Malaga moved off the bottom of the La Liga table with a 3-1 victory over nine-man Almeria that saw the Andalusian teams swap positions.

Sofiane Feghouli put Almeria ahead in the eighth minute, but substitute Enzo Maresca eight minutes after halftime and then Jose Ulloa received a second yellow card on 77.

Two minutes later Malaga went ahead through a header by Jose Rondon, and Antonio Luna was also booked a second time with a minute to play before Juanmi Jimenez scored in time added on.