The four Champions League contenders in domestic action on Sunday all recorded victories, with AC Milan returning to the top of Serie A thanks to a 2-0 win at nine-man AS Roma. City neighbours and quarter-final opponents FC Internazionale Milano moved third in the table thanks to a victory against ACF Fiorentina, although the victory was marred by a knee injury to Inter's talismanic Brazilian striker Adriano. Liverpool FC secured a significant win against local rivals Everton FC, but also suffered injury problems, while PSV Eindhoven enjoyed a record victory at traditional rivals AFC Ajax.
FC Internazionale Milano
Roberto Mancini's side climbed to third in Serie A after defeating Fiorentina 3-2 at the Giuseppe Meazza. Esteban Cambiasso broke the deadlock after 27 minutes and, although Fiorentina striker Giampaolo Pazzini restored parity before half-time, Juan Sebastián Verón and Iván Cordoba gave Inter a two-goal cushion, although Cordoba's own goal three minutes from time set up a tense finale. However, there were concerns over Adriano, who scored all three goals as the Italian side eliminated holders FC Porto from the Champions League in midweek but was carried off on a stretcher in the 43rd minute this afternoon. The club later said the forward has "a suspected light strain to the medial ligament in his right knee," and will undergo a series of tests on Monday to determine the exact nature of the problem. Mancini was without Alvaro Recoba and Dejan Stankovic, who is sidelined with a minor groin strain while Christian Vieri was on the substitutes' bench due to a shortage of match fitness. The Inter coach also rested midfield player Cristiano Zanetti.
For Sunday night's game at Roma, Milan coach Carlo Ancelotti was without Andriy Shevchenko, who is still out with a broken cheekbone, while ankle injuries ruled both central defender Alessandro Nesta and midfield player Vikash Dhorasoo out of the game, although all three are expected to return to action before the Champions League tie with Inter. Ancelotti opted to drop Portuguese playmaker Rui Costa to employ a 4-4-2 formation, with Hernán Crespo and Jon Dahl Tomasson paired together up front. The former opened the scoring at the Stadio Olimpico three minutes past the hour mark, and Andrea Pirlo secured the points from the penalty spot eight minutes later after Roma's Christian Panucci had handled Crespo's goalbound header. There was more good news for Milan as striker Filippo Inzaghi continued his rehabilitation after four months out, replacing Crespo for the last 15 minutes.
Having won 1-0 at FC Groningen on Thursday night, PSV consolidated their seven-point lead at the top of the Eredivisie in style with a 4-0 win against AFC Ajax at the Amsterdam ArenA, their biggest away win against their rivals. Phillip Cocu – who later went off injured, to be replaced by John de Jong – opened the scoring in the 24th minute before captain Mark van Bommel scored a hat-trick either side of half-time to wrap up an emphatic win. Cocu aside, PSV coach Guus Hiddink has a fully-fit squad at his disposal.
Liverpool's hopes of claiming the English Premiership's fourth and final Champions League qualifying place received a significant boost on Sunday afternoon with victory in the 201st Merseyside derby against Everton, who currently occupy fourth place in the table. Two goals in five first-half minutes from captain Steven Gerrard and Luis García ultimately proved enough for victory despite the 77th-minute dismissal of Milan Baroš and Tim Cahill's strike five minutes later. However, Liverpool's victory was undermined by a number of injury problems, with manager Rafael Benítez forced to make three substitutions before half-time. Left-back Stephen Warnock was forced off with a strained left ankle, German midfield player Dietmar Hamann's participation in the game was ended by medial ligament damage to his left knee, while Fernando Morientes suffered a thigh strain. In addition, García spent the second half limping after badly jarring an ankle.
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