Italian Serie A: Udinese takes on Empoli

Udinese plays fifth-place Empoli in the Serie A on Sunday, four days after achieving what 17 previous teams failed to do - stop Inter Milan from winning.

updated: March 22, 2007 06:37 IST
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Udinese plays fifth-place Empoli in the Serie A on Sunday, four days after achieving what 17 previous teams failed to do - stop Inter Milan from winning. Udinese snapped Inter's 17-game winning streak on Wednesday, holding the league leader to a 1-1 draw. "I continue to see an Udinese in bloom," club owner Giampaolo Pozzo said. "The standings are still close and there are plenty of games yet to play. On Sunday, we face a team that precedes us in the table. Were we to win, the success would be worth double." Udinese is tied for seventh place in Italy's top division with 32 points, six fewer than Empoli, which beat Messina 3-1 on Wednesday. Inter has 67 points, followed by AS Roma with 53. Palermo is third with 45 points. Udinese had looked on course to hand Inter its first domestic defeat of the season until Hernan Crespo sneaked in at the back post to head in a 66th-minute equaliser. Christian Obodo put Udinese ahead two minutes into the second half. "It's a shame about that error in defense," Pozzo said. "The three points were there for the taking. The game was in our hands." Udinese also held Inter to a scoreless draw on October 22, which prefaced the run of victories. "We shouldn't make a drama of this draw after 17 consecutive victories," Inter captain Javier Zanetti said. "It's very hard to keep this tempo going, particularly in the Italian championship. We must stay calm now." Following a video review of Wednesday evening's game, Udinese defender Marco Motta was suspended for three games by the Italian soccer league for elbowing Inter midfielder Santiago Solari in the face. Inter plays Livorno in the Serie A on Saturday before traveling to Valencia in the Champions League on Tuesday - a game the Nerazzurri have to win to stay in the competition. "Our minds are on the game against Livorno because we must give an immediate reply in the championship ... and should not be neglected," Zanetti said. "After Livorno, we will think about Valencia, which is just as important." Inter drew with Valencia 2-2 in a first-leg second round match at San Siro last week. Brazil striker Adriano could miss Saturday's game after straining muscles in his left thigh against Udinese, while Inter midfielder Dejan Stankovic has completed a one-match suspension and is expected to return. Livorno drew 0-0 at Siena on Wednesday and has only won one game in 2007. Also on Saturday, Roma plays last-place Ascoli. Catching up with Inter Francesco Totti scored twice on Wednesday to help the Giallorossi rally from a two-goal deficit to a 2-2 draw with Chievo Verona. However, the Roma captain suggested that his team would not be able to catch Inter. "We can't do it," Totti said. "In front of us is a team that always wins, that is very strong, that is very talented and has some great players who can decide a game at any moment. So, we're doing our best and hope to obtain this second place." Roma midfielder Daniele De Rossi twisted his left ankle in training Thursday and is doubtful for the game at Ascoli. On Sunday, Palermo travels to Messina in a Sicilian derby, seeking its first win in five games. Palermo was held to a 0-0 draw by AC Milan on Wednesday - its third successive tie. Milan is sixth with 37 points, after starting the season with an eight-point penalty from the Italian match-fixing scandal, and hosts Chievo on Saturday. Also Sunday, it's: Cagliari vs Atalanta; Catania vs Siena; Fiorentina vs Torino; Lazio vs Sampdoria; and Parma vs Reggina.