Catania claim share of Serie A lead

Catania maintained their 100% home record and claimed a share of top spot in Serie A - for a few hours at least - by beating 10-man Palermo in the Sicily derby on Sunday.

Jorge Martinez put the home side ahead midway through the second half and a penalty from Giuseppe Mascara with four minutes to go settled the affair.

The visitors had to play the entire second period with a numerical disadvantage following the dismissal of Palermo defender Moris Carrozzieri on the stroke of half-time.

This fixture is regarded as one of the most passionate in Italian football but that passion has at times manifested itself in violence with the death of policeman Filippo Raciti in 2007 the most tragic example.

Fortunately, this fixture went off smoothly although there was a feistiness about the battle on the pitch.

Each side had a chance in the early stages, Takayuki Morimoto heading Mascara's cross wide for Catania while, at the other end, Fabrizio Miccoli's shot from 18 yards was well saved by home goalkeeper Albano Bizzarri.

Mascara, who was Catania's brightest attacking threat, shot over after 18 minutes with Palermo responding with a Fabio Simplicio header which also missed the target.

That final chance was the prelude for a concerted spell of Palermo pressure.

The Rosaneri, whose solid start to the season resulted this week in coach Davide Ballardini signing a two-year contract extension, poured forward but were unable to make the breakthrough due to a combination of poor finishing and fine goalkeeping from Bizzarri.

Miccoli struck a free-kick over the bar, Giulio Migliaccio shot wide from the edge of the box while Antonio Nocerino ought to have done better than put his effort past the left post having been played in by Fabio Liverani.

Nocerino attempted to make up for his wastefulness by setting up Edinson Cavani but the Uruguayan was denied by Bizzarri.

Having spent so long on the back foot, the momentum swung in favor of Catania after 44 minutes when Carrozzieri was shown his second yellow card and the subsequent red for a foul on Giacomo Tedesco.

The 10 men created the first chance in the second half - Bizzarri saving well from Miccoli - but they eventually found themselves coming under increasing pressure.

Martinez could have opened the scoring after 64 minutes with a shot which was blocked. The rebound fell to Mariano Izco but his effort flew just wide.

The breakthrough eventually came after 69 minutes.

Substitute Cristian Llama crossed from the left and Martinez rose highest to power a header past Marco Amelia from close range.

Mascara almost made it 2-0 with a 35-yard shot which was well saved by Amelia before the hosts did get a match-clinching second goal late on.

Migliaccio was adjudged to have handled in the area and Mascara slotted home the spot-kick to earn Catania local bragging rights.

Walter Zenga's side now have 14 points, the same as Udinese and Napoli, but all three teams will be overtaken later Sunday if defending champions Internazionale beat Roma.