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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Victory Preserves Milan's League Lead


ROME -- The deflection of a thundering free kick from Roberto Baggio kept Milan six points ahead of rival Juventus at the top of the Italian soccer league as third-placed Fiorentina lost heavily to Lazio.

Milan, ever closer to its fourth title in five years, overcame Cagliari 2-1 in Sardinia on Wednesday, but champions Juventus kept the pressure on and the title race alive with a 2-1 home win against Udinese, despite being reduced to 10 men.

The league leaders, without suspended captain Franco Baresi and injured Liberian striker George Weah, rarely impressed at the Sant Elia stadium where the unfortunate Cagliari players were credited with all the goals.

An own goal by Nicolo Napoli, off a shot by Milan striker Dejan Savicevic, put Milan ahead in the 30th minute although the lead lasted only two minutes until Matteo Villa equalized.

The winner came when Baggio's 79th minute free kick from the edge of the area ripped into the defensive wall and rebounded in off Uruguayan substitute Dario Silva.

Milan has 63 points to Juventus' 57 while Fiorentina, which was thrashed 4-0 by Lazio, remain third on 53 points with five matches left to play before the season ends May 12.

The comfortable win boosted seventh-place Lazio's UEFA Cup qualification aspirations; AC Parma and AS Roma, which each moved up one standings spot with wins, are also in the European post-season play hunt.

Parma is fourth after a 2-0 win at Cremonese, while fifth-place Roma edged Padova 2-1 for its fourth straight win.

They advanced at the expense of Internazionale of Milan, which slipped to sixth with a 2-0 loss to Sampdoria of Genoa as Enrico Chiesa scored twice.

Juventus, which played at home, fell behind when veteran midfielder Giovanni Stroppa struck his first goal of the season after 15 minutes for 11th-place Udinese (9-7-13). Italian international striker Favrizio Ravanelli, returning from a tendon injury, equalized for the Turin club in the 26th, rotating to slot home a cross for his 12th goal.

Juve looked like it might have to settle for a draw when defender Moreno Toricelli was sent off in the 59th. But six minutes from time, veteran stopper Pietro Vierchowod, on as a second-half substitute, scored off defender Gianluca Pessoto's corner kick.

At Rome, Giuseppe Signori, fighting for a spot on Italy's side at the European Championships in June, tallied in the 33rd and 52nd minutes for Lazio (13-7-9). Dutch winger Aron Winter turned in Croat striker Alen Boksic's feed in the 14th and Italian international Pierluigi Casiraghi finished the scoring in the 83rd with his 12th goal. ()

(For other results, see Scorecard.)