Inter extended their lead at the top of Serie A to nine points after beating AC Milan 2-1 in a thrilling San Siro derby on Sunday, dealing a fatal blow to their city rivals’ Serie A title hopes in the process.
Jose Mourinho’s side, who were the home team in the 150th league meeeting between the two Italian giants, should have taken an 18th minute lead when a fine flowing move resulted in Esteban Cambiasso crossing from the left for Dejan Stankovic to score. However, the Serbian midfielder just delayed his shot on goal, allowing Masssimo Ambrosini to come back and produce a goal-saving challenge in the area. Inter did eventually take the lead in the 29th minute, but the goal was shrouded in controversy. Maicon’s cross from the right was met by the head of fellow-Brazilian Adriano, but the effort clearly brushed off the striker’s arm before finding its way into the net. Milan were struggling to cope with the pace of Inter’s attacks and it was no surprise when the league leaders doubled their advantage two minutes before half-time. A long free-kick out of defense was headed down by Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Dejan Stankovic was on hand to crack home a superb shot on the half-volley. Inter were inches from making it 3-0 in the 47th minute when Milan again failed to deal with a long ball. Georgian defender Kakha Kaladze slipped over when trying to deal with the danger, allowing Adriano a free run on goal. However, the striker fired just wide with Ibrahimovic unmarked in the area begging for the ball.
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David Beckham had a quiet match for Milan and the England midfielder was eventually substituted in the 55th minute for Filippo Inzaghi, seemingly holding a hamstring injury. The chances kept coming for Inter. On the hour mark the superb Ibrahimovic was denied by a brilliant reflex save from goalkeeper Christian Abbiati. However, against the run of play, Milan gave themselves hope with a 71st minute strike. Ronaldinho produced some Brazilian magic to lay a delightful ball through for Marek Jankulovski on the left — and the Czech layed a simple pass square for Alexander Pato to find the corner of the net. That goal brought Milan to life. Inzaghi had a shot well saved by goalkeeper Julio Cesar and the same player then headed home a Pato cross, but the linesman correctly flagged for offside. The longer the game went on, Pato began to have more influence, and the teenager nearly levelled for Milan in the 78th minute but Cesar did well to save with his feet. Then, in the final minute, Inzaghi again went desperately close, producing another fine save from Cesar as Inter held on for a classic and vital victory. Meanwhile, Juve’s title hopes were dealt another blow as they were held to a 1-1 home draw by Sampdoria — meaning Claudio Ranieri’s side have now won just one of their last four matches. The visitors took a 10th minute lead when Giampaolo Pazzini was left unmarked to score from a pass from Antonio Cassano. The home side dominated proceedings but could only score once when Amauri headed home a Sebastian Giovinco cross in the 62nd minute. Despite plenty of chances, the hosts could not find the winning goal, with Pavel Nedved (twice) and Alessandro Del Piero hitting the woodwork. Elsewhere, Fiorentina held on to fourth spot and the final Champions League qualifying position as they remarkably came back from 3-0 down at Genoa to snatch a 3-3 draw with Adrian Mutu’s equalizer deep into injury time. Roma, who had won 10 of their previous 13 matches, drop to sixth after they were well beaten 3-0 at Atalanta, for whom Cristiano Doni scored twice.