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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Nov 13, 2006

Late Cruz winner keeps Inter level with Palermo

ROME, Nov 13 ( Reuters) - A dramatic stoppage-time strike by Julio Cruz gave Inter Milan a 2-1 win at Parma on Sunday to keep pace at the top of Serie A with Palermo who enjoyed a comfortable 3-0 victory over Torino.

Inter seemed set to slip back to second in the division after Zlatan Ibrahimovic's early goal was countered by Parma striker Igor Budan.

But Cruz's late goal gave Inter 27 points from 11 matches, level with Palermo who had brushed aside Torino in an earlier match with goals by Eugenio Corini, David Di Michele and Amauri.

AS Roma lie third on 23 points after Francesco Totti scored twice in a 2-1 win at AC Milan on Saturday.

Inter started aggressively at Parma's Tardini stadium. Fabio Grosso hit the bar then in the 15th minute Ibrahimovic gave them the lead, chesting down a ball on the edge of the area before turning his marker and thumping a shot into the bottom corner.

Parma, however, raised their game, and equalised in the 26th minute, when Antonio Bocchetti burst down the left and crossed for Budan to turn the ball neatly past visiting keeper Julio Cesar.

They continued to threaten the Serie A giants at the start of the second half, Domenico Morfeo whipping the ball fractionally over the bar.

As the game entered its final 15 minutes Inter took control and it was only the acrobatics of home keeper Alfonso De Lucia that kept the scores level.

A skidding free kick by Grosso was turned behind for a corner. De Lucia then pulled off a fingertip save to keep out a Cruz header and pushed a Santiago Solari shot on to his post.

Inter finally hit the target in the second minute of stoppage time. Javier Zanetti crossed into the box, De Lucia beat away Cruz's initial header, but could not prevent the Argentine international volleying home the rebound.

Palermo's victory, their fifth in a row in Serie A, equalled the club's best winning run in the division, which dates back to the 1961-62 season.

Torino, who have been treading water just above the relegation zone since earning promotion last season, rarely looked capable of causing an upset.

Di Michele created the first goal just before halftime, breaking down the right and cutting the ball across the area for Simplicio to turn smoothly into the path of Corini who swept it into the net.

Di Michele himself scored in the 69th minute when he went through alone on goal and chipped keeper Christian Abbiati.

Di Michele was also involved in Palermo's third goal, providing the defence-splitting pass for Amauri to angle a shot past Abbiati.

'It was a tight match for about 15 minutes. At that stage it could have gone either way, but after that I think we took control,' said Palermo coach Francesco Guidolin.

'We played an excellent match today. We showed the solidity that we've been looking for, without giving up some of the other aspects of our game.

'We play good, positive football, and we often win away. Twenty-seven points from 11 matches is a great start.'

The only dampener for Palermo was an injury to Di Michele, who limped off shortly after setting up Amauri and could miss Italy's friendly against Turkey in Bergamo next Wednesday.

Elsewhere on Sunday, Tommaso Rocchi and Stefano Mauri each scored twice as Lazio thrashed Udinese 5-0.

Reggina finally cancelled out the 15-point penalty they received in the match-fixing scandal with a 1-0 win over Siena.

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