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Oct 23, 2005

Serie A: Inzaghi gets Milan winner, Rome derby storm

MILAN, Oct 23 (Reuters) - Injury-plagued Filippo Inzaghi scored his first Serie A goal in 19 months to give second-placed AC Milan a 2-1 victory over Palermo on Sunday, while leaders Juventus remain five points clear thanks to a 3-0 win at Lecce.

Third-placed Inter Milan also won with Argentine Julio Ricardo Cruz scoring in their 1-0 victory at Udinese and Sampdoria were held 3-3 at home by Siena.

Elsewhere a 1-1 draw in the derby between AS Roma and Lazio was marred when referee Gianluca Paparesta was hit by an object thrown from the stands.

Andrea Caracciolo put Palermo ahead at the San Siro in the 28th minute before Milan drew level within two minutes thanks to a fine strike from midfielder Gennaro Gattuso.

Inzaghi's diving header secured the three points and his first goal since March 2004.

Juventus equalled their club record best start to a season with an eighth successive victory coming via goals from Swede Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Romanian Adrian Mutu and Uruguayan Marcelo Zalayeta.

After his long spell on the sidelines with injury, Inzaghi returned as a substitute in the past two games for Milan but he was back in the starting line-up against Palermo and repaid coach Carlo Ancelotti with a vital goal.

It was a pulsating opening half and after creating several chances, with Mario Santana hitting the cross-bar, Palermo went ahead when Fabio Grosso crossed from the left and Stephen Makinwa headed the ball into the path of Caracciolo who slotted home.

Milan responded with a furious assault on the Sicilian goal. Inzaghi missed a chance, Alberto Gilardino forced Palermo keeper Nicola Santoni into a fine save and then Gattuso's first time shot from outside the area brought Ancelotti's side level.

Milan piled on the pressure after the break but were unable to find a way through until Marek Jankulovski crossed from the left and Inzaghi flung himself at the ball with a diving header that flashed past Santoni.

"I'm really delighted with that goal -- I feel I'm back to being the player I once was," said Inzaghi who was mobbed by his team mates after his winner.

The midweek loss to Bayern Munich in the Champions League was Juve's first defeat of the campaign but Fabio Capello's team responded at Lecce with a typical display of solid midfield work and clinical finishing.

"We did very well, it was a tricky game and played on a heavy pitch but we made the most of our chances today and I'd say we deserved what we got," said Capello.

It was a workmanlike display from Inter against a below-par Udinese with the goal coming after Cruz replaced Brazilian Adriano who fell badly injuring his shoulder.

"We played well but perhaps we should have taken better advantage of our chances on the counter attack to kill off the match," said Inter coach Roberto Mancini.

At Rome's Olympic Stadium, Roma seemed on course to pick up only their third win of the season when Francesco Totti fired them ahead five minutes before the break.

Totti's strike partner Vincenzo Montella nearly doubled their advantage just after the restart, but in the 57th minute Lazio's Brazilian winger Cesar broke down the right and crossed for Tommaso Rocchi to nod in the equalizer.

There was little other to note until the 74th minute, when Lazio won a free kick close to Roma's area.

As Paparesta positioned the ball an object hit him on the side of the face. He was unhurt and play resumed quickly, though the incident recalled the volatile nature of the fixture and football matches in the Italian capital in general.

In March 2004 the derby was abandoned after a false rumour spread that a young boy had been killed by a police car outside the stadium.

Last season UEFA ordered Roma to play two home matches behind closed doors after Swedish referee Anders Frisk was hit by an object thrown by a spectator during a Champions League match against Dynamo Kiev at the Olympic Stadium.