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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Nov 18, 2006

Serie A: AC Milan's falter again

ROME, Nov 18 (Reuters) - AC Milan's dismal Serie A season continued when they were held 0-0 at Empoli.

The draw, after four defeats in five matches, left Milan with eight points from 12 games.

As in their 2-1 defeat by AS Roma last weekend, when they twice hit the bar, the six-times European champions went close to taking the lead several times.

Their frustrations began in the 17th minute, striker Ricardo Oliveira curling the ball over Empoli keeper Daniele Balli from long range only to watch it come back off the bar.

The Brazilian went close again a minute later when Empoli midfielder Davide Moro cleared a header off the line.

The woodwork came to Empoli's rescue a second time when Oliveira angled a shot against the post on the stroke of halftime.

Milan continued to dominate the tiny Tuscan side in the second half though it was poor finishing rather than bad luck that led to Clarence Seedorf missing from close range just after the hour mark.

'I saw some positive things tonight compared to some of our recent matches,' said Milan coach Carlo Ancelotti.

'It's a hard result to accept, but if we keep creating chances like we did tonight, we will start winning games'.

A late goal by striker Simone Pepe gave Cagliari a 1-0 win over Serie A leaders Palermo who had to play the whole of the second half with 10 men on Saturday.

Palermo travelled to the Sant'Elia stadium aiming to set a club record of six consecutive league wins but were forced to abandon their usual attacking style after midfielder Fabio Simplicio was sent off at the end of the first period.

They hung on until the last minute of normal time, when Pepe grabbed a close-range winner to leave Palermo on 27 points from 12 matches, level with Inter Milan, who play Reggina on Sunday.

Cagliari made a lively start against a Palermo team missing the creative flair of suspended playmaker Eugenio Corini and injured striker David Di Michele.

In the 37th minute Antonio Langella sprinted down the left and delivered a low cross into the path of strike partner David Suazo, who shot straight at Palermo keeper Alberto Fontana.

Suazo's pace was a constant threat. When he burst past Simplicio in the 45th minute, the Palermo player reacted by barging him to the ground, earning a red card that left his team mates to defend for the rest of the match.

Cagliari almost took the lead at the start of the second half, Fontana making a reflex save to keep out a close-range header by Mauro Esposito.

Palermo's 10-man team rarely threatened to score but as the end of the match approached they looked increasingly likely to salvage a point.

But in the 90th minute Cagliari defender Michele Ferri curled a cross into the area, Suazo scuffed a volley goalwards and Pepe was well placed to drive it over the line.

'If it had remained 11 against 11, I think we might have stood a chance, but once Simplicio was gone we left ourselves too much to do,' Palermo coach Francesco Guidolin said.

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