FC Messina Peloro 1-2 FC Internazionale Milano
Inter registered their third win in eight days as goals from Alvaro Recoba and Esteban Cambiasso earned a 2-1 victory at Messina on Sunday. Roberto Mancini's men controlled the match and took a seventh-minute lead when Recoba converted Dejan Stanković's pass. Cambiasso's fourth goal of the campaign sealed the points in the second half despite the home side reducing the deficit through Arturo Di Napoli.
Mancini had no fresh injuries to contend with, though Kily González and right-winger Zé Maria remain long-term absentees. Giuseppe Favalli was the only Italian included from the start at left-back, after Inter had fielded an entirely non-Italian team against Artmedia. The Nerazzurri stay fourth in Serie A, ten points behind leaders Juventus.
"The win was really important," said Mancini. "We must continue to win if we are to stand any chance of closing the gap at the top. We created a lot but unfortunately did not take all our chances, especially in the first half. We took our foot off the pedal, which allowed Messina to reduce the deficit."
Hibernian FC 2-1 Rangers FC
Rangers are eight games without a win after failing to capitalise on slips by Scottish title rivals Celtic FC and Heart of Midlothian FC in losing to Hibernian on Sunday. It is the worst sequence of results in the club's 132-year history. Manager Alex McLeish handed starts to youngsters Ross McCormack and Chris Burke after both came off the bench to help salvage a point in Porto, but Fernando Ricksen was sidelined.
The hosts dominated early on and were rewarded when Derek Riordan struck after 17 minutes. Seven minutes later Riordan turned provider, crossing for Garry O'Connor to volley in from 12 metres. McLeish introduced Steven Thompson for Francis Jeffers at half-time but it was captain Barry Ferguson who secured a 58th-minute lifeline with a deflected shot from 20 metres. It was not enough to spark a revival, though, as a miserable afternoon ended with Ferguson dismissed for a second bookable offence in added time.
"The start was very, very poor," said McLeish. "I felt we were second prizes all round, but you have to hand it to Hibs. That's probably the biggest doing we've had in 45 minutes this season."
FC Nitra 0-1 FC Artmedia
Coach Vladimír Weiss made four changes to the side thrashed 4-0 at FC Internazionale Milano on Matchday 5. Peter Burák, yet to play in the UEFA Champions League, returned in place of the injured Ondrej Debnár in central defence after missing the last seven league games, while midfielder Daniel Tchuř started ahead of Aleš Urbánek. Captain Balázs Borbély came in for playmaker Ján Kozák, who dropped to the bench, and Martin Mikulič replaced Lukáš Hartig, injured in the warm-up in Milan, up front.
The changes paid off as Pavol Staňo headed in Kozák's 74th-minute corner, enabling Artmedia to claim maximum points. The win moves Artmedia level with second-placed MFK Ružomberok, losers against FC Spartak Trnava, who lead the table by three points with one match remaining before the winter break. "I think we mastered the opposition and deserved the victory," commented Weiss. "I would like to congratulate my players for this solid display."
Gil Vicente FC 0-1 FC Porto
A first-minute strike from Lucho González returned Porto to winning ways after their draw against Rangers FC. The Argentinian midfielder nodded in Ricardo Quaresma's cross after just 28 seconds to restore his side to pole position in the Portuguese Liga, level on points with CD Nacional.
Torrential rain made the pitch very heavy and ensured there were few chances of note. The game was largely played in the middle third, and although Gil Vicente dominated the second half they rarely looked like equalising. Quaresma had the best opportunity when presented with a one-on-one situation but Jorge Baptista saved his 68th-minute effort. Bruno Alves and Ivanildo Cassamá were omitted from the starting lineup, while Tomislav Šokota and Bruno Moraes (both knee) missed out through injury.
Coach Co Adriaanse said: "It was the first time we have scored so early in the game and I expected more from the team. We could have scored more, but the pitch was not very good for football. I'm happier with the three points and the first position than I am with the performance."
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