There is a soccer adage that the most dangerous lead in the sport is a two-goal. That's because teams believe they are invincible with that advantage. 

For Genoa, a three-goal lead almost turned out to be the Italian Serie A club's downfall this past weekend.

The team survived a late flurry by Napoli to register a thrilling 3-2 victory.

Argentine Rodrigo Palacio recorded a brace to help Genoa to a three-goal cushion with nine minutes remaining in the match.

He volleyed the ball home from 25 yards in the 31st minute and added a second goal in the 70th minute. Palacio almost put another one away as he fired an eight-yard shot over the crossbar.

But Napoli made Genoa sweat as a pair of second-half substitutes Edinson Cavani, a Uruguayan, and Ezequiel Lavezzi, an Argentinean, struck within a minute of each other late in the match. Cavani headed in Cristian Maggio's cross to cut the lead to 3-1 in the 81st minute before Lavezzi made a game of it.

Italy

Guillermo Giacomazzi, Esteban Cambiasso, Diego Milito

The Uruguayan midfielder struck in the 40th minute to lift host Lecce to a 1-0 upset over Inter Milan to snap the team's seven-game winning streak. Giacomazzi chested a Massimo Oddo feed and beat Brazilian goalkeeper Julio Cesar as Inter won only its fourth victory of the season and incredibly, first at home. Cambiasso and Milito, both Argentine players, had goals disallowed for offside in the 51st and 71st minutes, respectively.

Gonzalo Bergessio

Bergessio, an Argentine, lifted Catania into the lead around the 30th minute, but Francesco Modesto equalized just before halftime in what ended in a 1-1 draw.

England

Javier Hernández

Remember Chicharito? He once filled the net for Manchester United as a key element of the English Premier League team’s attack. These days, Chicharito has gone back to his old role as a sub, but the results were not so super for United as the club was eliminated from the English F.A. Cup by Liverpool in a 2-1 result.

The Mexican international came on for Paul Scholes in the 76th minute with the score tied at 1-1. Hernández tried to make an impact. He did drive the Liverpool defense crazy, harrying its backline, but he could not score or create the game-winning goal. 

Dutchman Dirk Kuyt, however, did — in the 88th minute as Liverpool ushered last year’s runners-up out of the competition.

Chicharito’s scoreless streak was extended by another 14 minutes. He has not has not scored in 264 minutes over eight matches. He not celebrated a goal since a 1-1 tie with Newcastle United on Nov. 27, his only home goal this season.

Juan Mata

The Spaniard converted a controversial penalty kick to give Chelsea a 1-0 win over Queens Park Rangers and into the F.A. Cup fifth round. Teammate Daniel Sturridge dramatically fell down in the penalty area during a challenge by Clint Hill as referee Mike Dean awarded a penalty.

Messi the Great

Spain

David Zurutuza, Carlos Vela

The Spaniard during ecstasy and a lot of agony in Real Sociedad's 5-1 triumph over Sporting Gijon in La Liga. Zurutuza struck for a brace in the opening five minutes, but was forced from the match after he suffered a broken nose after a collision with defender Gregory Arnolin. The 25-year-old Zurutuza, who will need surgery, volleyed home Antoine Griezmann's cross in the second minute before he fired home a pass from Mexican international Carlos Vela a minute later. But then came the collision that prematurely ended Zurutuza's short and bittersweet day.

"It's a pity for Zurutuza to score the two goals in such good form and then hurt his nose," Sociedad coach Philippe Montanier told reporters. "We will keep him in our thoughts."

Andrés Guardado

The Mexican international midfielder was denied twice by goalkeeper Manuel Reina in Deportivo La Coruña's 2-1 win over FC Cartagena. But he exacted some revenge by helping set up the winning goal in the Spanish Second Division match. Despite playing with 10 men for most of the match -- Ayoze Diaz was red-carded in the 10th minute -- La Coruña managed to prevail. With the score deadlocked at 1-1, Guardado teammed with Juan Carlos Valerón and Bruno Gama to set up Xisco's goal in the 70th minute. Reina saved Guardado's corner kick in the 13th minute and stopped the Mexican's acrobatic shot in the 42nd minute.

France

Guillermo Ochoa

One week after Ochoa and his Ajaccio teammates suffered an embarrassing exit to a fourth-tier side in the French Cup, the club climbed out of the Ligue 1 relegation zone. Despite playing with only 10 men for the final 17 minutes of the match, Ajaccio recorded a stunning 2-1 victory over Valenciennes FC. According to www.Ligue1.com the Mexican international goalkeeper handled the ball 39 times, making three saves and blocking five shots. Second-half substitute Christian Kinkela scored in stoppage time to lift Ajaccio to its fourth consecutive league win, which propelled the team out of last place for the first time since September. Ajaccio (5-10-6, 21 points), which finds itself in 15th place, had recorded victories over Rennes Sochaux and Auxerre entering the match, although minnows Bourg-Peronnas spoiled the streak in the French Cup last week.

Ajaccio grabbed a 1-0 lead in the sixth minute as newly signed Ecuardo tallied off Paul Lasne's cross. But Vincent Aboubakar equalized for Valencinnes (5-11-5, 20) two minutes into the second half and then disaster struck for the visitors in the 73rd minute when Lasne was slapped with his second yellow card for a dive.

David Ospina

The Colombian goalkeeper saved a penalty kick from Montpellier's Olivier Giroud in the 29th minute. But he could not stop the striker from scoring during the flow of play in a 1-0 defeat.

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Germany

Claudio Pizarro

The Peruvian striker struck for his 13th goal of the season to give Werder Bremen the lead in the 29th minute. Pizarro controlled Tom Trybull's cross with his chest before scoring. However, Bayer Leverkusen tied it at 1-1 on Stefan Reinartz's score in the 57th minute.

Scotland

Emilio Izaguirre

The Honduran fullback returned to the starting lineup and played the full 90 minutes in Celtic's 3-1 Scottish League Cup semifinal win over Falkirk at Hampden Park. Izaguirre did not figure in the scoring against the First Division side. Celtic plays in the Scottish Premier League.

Greece

Sebastian Leto

With the Argentine, the league leading goal-scorer, out with an injury, Panathinaikos still recorded a 1-0 victory over Drama to maintain its five-point lead over Olympiakos.

United States

John Alexander Valencia, Marvin Iraheta

Chivas USA signed Valencia, a Colombian defender, and Iraheta, an El Salvadoran midfielder. Valencia, 30, who most recently played for Corporación Popular Deportiva Junior, better known as Atlético Junior, won the Colombian 2011 Fall Championship this past December. Iraheta 19, arrived at the Major League Soccer team's youth academy after it merged with the Cosmos Academy West last year.

Michael Lewis, who has covered international soccer for more than three decades, can be reach at SoccerWriter516@aol.com.

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