Little Cesena went top of Serie A on Sunday on a weekend that saw impressive wins for Inter Milan, Juventus and Brescia.
The Serie A newcomers lead the Italian pack after defeating Lecce 1-0 despite playing most of the match with 10 men following the controversial sending off of Giuseppe Colucci on 38min.
Albanian Erjon Bogdani, who had scored in the victory over AC Milan two weeks ago, struck the decisive goal on 55min.
“We are not looking at the table. We just want to stay up,” said coach Massimo Ficcadenti, whose side are the only one yet to concede in Serie A.
“It’s great that we are getting points. There’s no particular secret – we are playing with amazing sacrifice, will and team spirit,” he added.
Referee Gianluca Rochhi red-carded Colucci for a foul committed instead by his teammate Yuto Nagamoto.
“Rocchi was led astray by one of the opposing players who told him ‘It was Colucci, he’s already on a yellow’,” Colucci said after the match.
“It wasn’t right but I’m taking consolation from the result. Rocchi was honest and admitted he’d got the wrong player.”
Cesena are joined on seven points after three games by champions Inter, who were in imperious form in Sicily but still needed a second half brace from Samuel Eto’o to come from behind and win 2-1 at Palermo.
“We changed Eto’o from the left to a second forward and he responded like the champion he is,” said Inter boss Rafa Benitez, who had words of sympathy for the misfiring Diego Milito.
“Milito played brilliantly – he did everything but score. It’s clear he was angry after being taken off but then we talked about (Peter) Crouch, who at Liverpool went 14 games without scoring and then did well and fans asked us why did we sell him.”
In Sicily, Inter took charge from the start with Dejan Stankovic smacking a typical 25-yarder against the bar on 13min before Palermo broke and scored with their first attack on 28min.
Javier Pastore’s toe-poke was parried by Julio Cesar into the path of Josip Ilicic, who had begun the move with a brilliant dribble and pass, to side-foot home from 12 yards.
In a surprisingly open game, Milito missed three glorious chances to equalise before his strike partner Eto’o showed him the way with a brace to turn the game.
In irresistible form this season, the Cameroonian turned Ezequiel Munoz and drilled into the corner from 15 yards on 62min. Eight minutes later, he side-footed home from closer in after meeting a cross from the impressive Stankovic.
Inter had Cesar to thank for three well-earned points after the Brazilian turned a thundering shot from Pastore against the post with two minutes to go.
Freescoring Juventus sounded a warning to their scudetto rivals with a crushing 4-0 win at Udinese. Defender Leonardo Bonucci opened the scoring on 18min before new signing Fabio Quagliarella doubled the lead with an exquisite back heel at the front post six minutes later. Claudio Marchisio then made it 3-0 with a sweet volley three minutes before half-time.
Bottom of Serie A ahead of kick off, Udinese heads dropped well and truly low as substitute Vincenzo Iaquinta added a fourth on 77min, celebrating amid a howl of boos by raising a finger to his lips to the fans who used to sing his name.
“This is a Juve reborn, and we have to compete for every title going,” said coach Luigi Del Neri. “A coach doesn’t get too much time here so results are very important but we also have to construct an identity and work ethic.”
Leaders going into the third round of matches, Chievo fell back to earth after succumbing to Brescia 1-0 at home. Alessandro Diamanti won the points with a brilliant free kick after half an hour with Brescia moving up to fifth.
Elsewhere, a late brace from Marco Di Vaio earned Bologna a 2-2 draw at struggling Roma, Parma and Genoa shared the points after a 1-1 draw, and Bari and Cagliari played out a scoreless draw.
On Saturday, Lazio defeated Fiorentina 2-1 in Florence, while Milan could only manage a 1-1 home draw with Catania.
Sampdoria host Napoli in Sunday’s late game.
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