ROME (AFP) Substitute Ronaldinho popped up seven minutes from time to salvage a point for AC Milan in a 1-1 draw at 10-man Atalanta on Sunday but that might not be enough to save coach Leonardo from the chop.
Meanwhile, the last unbeaten record in Serie A disappeared as Juventus were beaten 2-0 at Palermo to drop to third in the table.
Milan may have come from behind to earn a draw but their hosts played almost an hour with 10 men and it took the seven-time European champions 45 minutes to break down their lowly opponents with a numerical advantage.
It was also only Milans fourth goal in seven league matches in which the struggling giants have managed just two wins.
In Europe and at home they have failed to win in their last four matches, a bleak statistic which has piled the pressure onto Leonardo.
But centre-back Alessandro Nesta insisted the Brazilian boss should not be blamed for the clubs woes.
These are two points dropped.
We put our heart into this match but if it seemed as if we werent trying its because were not working well.
Were not managing to cover all areas of the pitch, he said.
Its a difficult moment but were right behind Leonardo.
You win and you lose all together.
Its not one single persons failure.
Atalanta deservedly took the lead on 21 minutes as Simone Padoins cross from the right caused confusion in the Milan backline.
Centre-backs Nesta and Giuseppe Favalli were both drawn to Cristiano Doni at the neat post, leaving Simone Tiribocchi free behind them as Ignazio Abate had failed to cover from right-back.
When Doni missed the ball it fell to Tiribocchi, who had time to pick his spot and beat Marco Storari in the Milan goal.
Serbian midfielder Ivan Radovanovic then made the hosts hopes of holding out for victory look decidedly tougher as he was sent off six minutes before the break for a needless second booking, pulling Patos shirt when the forward was practically on the halfway line.
Milan were expected to come out firing after the break as Leonardo replaced French midfielder Mathieu Flamini with Ronaldinho.
The former European champions did fashion an early chance as Thomas Manfredini over-committed himself in trying to reach an Andrea Pirlo cross leaving Pato free to shoot from 10 yards but Consigli came to the rescue, making a point blank stop.
Atalanta then survived a double scare 17 minutes from time.
Following a slick Milan passing move, Consigli saved well from Ronaldinho before Patos volleyed follow-up bounced into the ground and over the goalkeeper, only to come back off the bar.
Milan played much of the second half just in front of Atalantas penalty box and the 10 men finally cracked on 83 minutes when Nesta lifted the ball over the backline and Ronaldinho volleyed home in one brilliant movement.
Juve could have gone top if they had won in Sicily but that never looked likely in a game in which they were clearly second-best.
First half goals from Brazilians Edison Cavani and Simplicio within five minutes of each other gave Palermo a deserved 2-0 lead at the break after dominating the first half.
Juves Brazilian playmaker Diego came closest for the visitors, hitting the woodwork with a free-kick.
Sampdoria failed to take back top spot from Inter Milan, who beat Udinese 2-1 on Saturday, as they were held to a 1-1 home draw by Parma.
Francesco Totti scored a brace in AS Romas 2-1 victory over Napoli that saw him move level with former Argentina, Roma and Fiorentina striker Gabriel Batistuta in eighth place on the all-time top Serie A goalscorers list.