Udinese had not lost a home game all season, winning 10 of its 11 matches at Stadio Friuli and knew that another victory would see it draw level with second-placed Milan. (Dino Panato/Getty Images)
AC Milan comes from behind, tops Udinese: Serie A
(PhatzRadio / CBC Sports) — AC Milan new signing Maxi Lopez scored his first goal for the Serie A champion to help it come from behind to beat Udinese 2-1 and take over top spot in the Italian league on Saturday.
Lopez then set up Stephan El Shaarawy, who struck for the second time in a week, five minutes from time, to snatch the victory for Milan.
Elsewhere, Mauricio Pinilla scored against his parent club to see Cagliari beat Palermo 2-1.
With Juventus’ game at Bologna postponed, Milan will end the weekend two points clear of the Turin side, which has two games in hand.
Udinese had not lost a home game all season, winning 10 of its 11 matches at Stadio Friuli and knew that another victory would see it draw level with second-placed Milan.
The home team was certainly the better side in the first period and richly deserved its halftime lead. Di Natale latched onto Gelson Fernandes’ long ball and his shot was deflected past Marco Amelia by Milan defender Thiago Silva.
It was almost immediately worse for Milan as Amelia was forced into a smart save to deny Mauricio Isla. Di Natale also had a good chance to double his tally but fired wide.
It was more of the same after the interval and as Milan searched for the equalizer it left itself more exposed at the back and Amelia was forced into two stunning saves to deny Maurizio Domizzi and Danilo.
Lopez, who came off the bench in the 66th, levelled for Milan. Udinese goalkeeper Samir Handanovic parried El Shaarawy’s shot but only as far as Lopez, who fired it home.
The Argentine striker repaid the favour five minutes from time as he served El Shaarawy, who volleyed home the winner.
In Sardinia, Pinilla, who moved on loan to Cagliari last month, came back to haunt Palermo.
Cagliari took the lead in the 56th minute when Victor Ibarbo crossed into the area for a sliding Pinilla to open the scoring. It was Pinilla’s second goal in four games for Cagliari.
The home side doubled its advantage in the 81st when Pinilla’s free kick was punched clear by Palermo goalkeeper Emiliano Viviano but fell straight to Daniele Dessena who rifled the ball into the back of the net.
Palermo grabbed one back moments later when Cagliari defender Gabriele Perico handled in the area. Abel Hernandez stepped up to convert the penalty.
Montpellier was level on points with Paris Saint-Germain, which visits Nice on Sunday, but leads on goal difference. (Pascal Guyot/AFP/Getty Images )
Giroud leads Montpellier past Ajaccio: Ligue 1
(PhatzRadio / CBC Sports) — Striker Olivier Giroud’s league-leading 16th goal helped Montpellier beat Ajaccio 3-0 to take the provisional lead in the French league on Saturday.
Morocco playmaker Younes Belhanda converted a penalty in the 53rd minute after Ajaccio midfielder Benjamin Andre tripped Henri Bedimo.
Montpellier midfielder Remy Cabella pounced on a pass from Giroud to double the lead with an angled shot in the 64th. Giroud then chested a long ball to fire into the bottom corner in the 67th.
“We’re now 10 points ahead of Lyon. We’ve therefore made a big step toward a European spot,” Giroud said.
Montpellier was level on points with Paris Saint-Germain, which visits Nice on Sunday, but leads on goal difference.
Also, it was: Lyon 1, Caen 2; Auxerre 1, Lorient 1; Valenciennes 1, Nancy 0; Rennes 1, Sochaux 0; Brest 1, Dijon 1.
The match between Evian and Marseille was postponed because of a cold snap.
Caen snapped a 10-game winless streak in all competitions and dealt a hard blow to Lyon’s league title hopes.
“Before every match, we believe we can create problems for the opponent,” Caen forward Pierre-Alain Frau said. “Everybody expected us to lose but we managed to take three points.”
Romain Hamouma beat Lyon goalkeeper Hugo Lloris with a low shot to open the scoring for Caen in the 13th.
Caen forward Livio Nabab made it 2-0 in the 73rd with a long-range strike that looped over Lloris in the 73rd.
Lyon striker Lisandro Lopez converted a penalty in the 86th for consolation after Caen fullback Aurelien Montaroup fouled Alexandre Lacazette.
“We were not ambitious enough in our game,” Lyon coach Remi Garde said. “That’s our eighth loss in the league, that’s way too much.”
In Auxerre, defender Willy Boly nodded in a corner for the hosts in the 18th.
Lorient was down to 10 men from the 20th when goalkeeper Fabien Audard handled the ball outside the area to deny Israeli forward Tahar Ben Sahar.
But Lorient striker Innocent Emeghara scored an equalizer with a header in the second minute of stoppage time.
In Valenciennes, substitute Mamadou Samassa netted the winner from close range following a goalmouth scramble in injury time.
In Rennes, Mevlut Erding headed home a cross from winger Jonathan Pitroipa in the 16th.
Rennes went level on points with Lyon and third-place Lille.
In Brest, fullback Santiago Gentiletti salvaged a draw for the hosts by heading in a free kick from Bruno Grougi in the third minute of stoppage time despite losing Issam Jemaa in the 90th as the Tunisia forward was sent off for dissent.
Gael Kakuta, on loan from Chelsea, had put Dijon ahead with a low drive from the edge of the box in the 76th.
On Sunday, defending champion Lille hosts Bordeaux and Saint-Etienne faces Toulouse.