Angry Inter Milan players and officials refused to talk to the press after a controversy-filled 0-0 draw against Sampdoria on Saturday in which they had two men sent off in the first half. Jose Mourinho, whose side host his former club Chelsea in their Champions League last-16 first leg on Wednesday, has long complained that his inter team are unjustly penalised by Italian referees because of their success.
The Serie A leaders, going for a fifth consecutive scudetto, had Walter Samuel harshly sent off on the half hour when he brought down Nicola Pozzi as the last man, the Sampdoria player making a complete meal of a regulation challenge. Ivan Cordoba, his fellow centre back, was then given a second yellow on 39 minutes before Samuel Eto'o, the Inter striker, was booked for diving in the box, prompting a laughing Mourinho to gesture from the bench that he was handcuffed.
Furious Inter fans in the San Siro then waved white tissues at the referee in a protest rarely seen in Italy before Samp also had Giampaolo Pazzini dismissed in the second half. "All the decisions were absolutely right, including Pazzini," Beppe Marotta, the Sampdoria chief executive, said. "I don't want to interpret Mourinho's gesture, you'd have to ask him. There is a nasty climate. I'm a bit bitter generally as a man of football."
Elsewhere in Serie A, Udinese sacked their coach Gianni De Biasi and reappointed Pasquale Marino yesterday after a 3-0 loss at Genoa left them a point above the relegation zone. De Biasi, the former Torino manager, only replaced Marino in December but results did not improve and Saturday's weak defeat was the last straw for club directors. "Udinese announce that Pasquale Marino and his staff have been reappointed as coaches of the first team," a statement said.
Italian clubs regularly recall sacked managers because they are still on the payroll if their contracts were not resolved and so are cheaper to employ than other coaches. The side from the north-eastern city of Udine had made a decent start to the season under Marino before a dip in form, and they still boast Serie A's top scorer in Antonio Di Natale. Yesterday, AS Roma closed the gap on Inter to five points after Mirko Vucinic scored the only goal in a comfortable 1-0 win over Catania. The Montenegro international, playing up front alone with Francesco Totti suspended and Luca Toni injured, struck early in the first half for his fifth league goal this season to give Roma their seventh consecutive Serie A victory.
Jeremy Menez's cross from a corner found Vucinic inside the box and the striker struck it past Mariano Andujar from close range. Inter are top of the table with with 55 points, Roma second on 50 and AC Milan, who played in last night's late game against Bari, in third. Juventus moved fourth, on 41 points, after beating Bologna 2-1 away. They replaced Napoli, who drew 0-0 at Siena.