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Ronaldinho's head settles Milan derby
by Ian Plenderleith, September 29th, 2008 7AM



[ITALY] Our TV broadcasters love to fawningly hype Europe's local derbies, conveniently failing to mention that the games are invariably scrappy, low-scoring affairs pocked with punitive cards and tactical fouls, and whose excitement is perhaps limited to their local audience. In that respect, Sunday's clash between Milan and Inter was a classic.

There were of course flashes of prodigious skill amid all the hack and hurry, and one of them lead to the game's only goal. The winner was a juicy first-half header from Ronaldinho, who from around 10 yards out elevated himself text-book style to nod home a cross that Kaka had intelligently waited to deliver from the right until he saw that someone would be there to meet it.

The second half deteriorated into fractious fare, with referee Emidio Morganto the most active man on the field, dishing out six yellow cards, one red-yellow to Inter's defender Nicolas Burdisso, and a red to Burdisso's lovable colleague at the back Marco Materazzi, even though the player had already been substituted out of the game. Despite being a man down, Inter suddenly started creating chances in stoppage time, and Adriano was guilty of an awful headed miss inside the six-yard box.

Elsewhere, league leader Lazio is developing a formidable strike partnership between Argentine Mauro Zarate, 21, and Macedonian Goran Pandev, who have scored 10 of the Rome club's 13 goals this season in just five games. Zarate scored twice, including a penalty, in the 3-1 win at Torino, bringing his season's total to six. Pandev scored the game's opener, taking his own tally to four.

Napoli is second after a late winner at Bologna from German Denis. Juventus remains unbeaten, but is struggling for goals, drawing 0-0 at Sampdoria for its third draw of the season, with a season total of just four strikes in the first five games. Catania kept up the pace with a 1-0 win over Chievo Verona thanks to a goal from Michele Paolucci, while other surprise early pace-setter Udinese edged Siena 2-1. Roma overcame Atalante, 2-0, at home.

Lazio 12
Napoli 11
Udinese 10
Inter 10
Catania 10
AC Milan 9
Juventus 9
Palermo 9
Atalanta 9
AS Roma 7
Fiorentina 7
Genoa 6
Torino 5
Chievo 5
Siena 5
Sampdoria 4
Bologna 3
Reggina 1
Cagliari 0



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