ROME - Italian champions Inter Milan
ended a damaging week on a high by beating Chievo Verona 2-0 at
the San Siro to move two points behind Serie A leaders AC Milan
Francesco Totti struck twice to lift Roma to a 2-1 win at
injury-hit Udinese in the scrap for a place in next season's
Second-half goals from Argentine midfielder Esteban
Cambiasso and Brazilian defender Maicon gave spluttering Inter
three points in a feisty encounter against battling Chievo to
move above Napoli into second place ahead of Sunday's matches.
Coming on the back of comprehensive back-to-back defeats in
the Milan derby and Champions League, Inter coach Leonardo told
Italy's Sky TV it was a significant victory.
"It was difficult for us to find our rhythm but we played a
clever game and concentrated right until the last," said the
Brazilian whose side, 5-2 down from the first leg, travel to
Schalke 04 on Wednesday in the return leg of the Champions
"We are still in the hunt for everything. We've heard the
joke about playing 04 [Schalke] but I still believe it's
possible for us to go through."
In Udine, Totti fired home John Arne Riise's cross deep into
stoppage-time to send sixth-placed Roma three points behind
Udinese, who occupy the fourth Champions League spot.
In a thrilling second half, Totti had given Roma the lead on
56 minutes with a cheeky dinked penalty before Antonio Di Natale
equalised for Udinese with his 26th goal of the campaign, a
clinical 88th-minute finish from Bernardo Corradi's knock down.
The home side, without injured striker Alexis Sanchez and
midfielder Gokhan Inler, then had a goal disallowed for handball
before Totti scored the winner, his 203rd Serie A goal, in the
dying seconds of stoppage-time.
"You can do the best things at the most crucial moments,"
Totti told Sky TV, describing his penalty. "I wanted to show
people I'm not finished and that I can last the pace."
In Milan, Giampaolo Pazzini had the best chance of an even
first half. Played in brilliantly by Maicon's perfectly-timed
pass, the Italian striker pulled a glorious chance inches wide
on 15 minutes.
Leonardo threw Wesley Sneijder on after the break but it was
Chievo who posed the greater threat as Sergio Pellissier first
headed over a Bojan Jokic cross before shooting straight at
Julio Cesar on 54 minutes.
But just as Chievo looked like they could spring an upset,
Inter struck on 66 minutes as Cambiasso was allowed space inside
the area to slot home Maicon's square pass.
Pellissier had a superb chance to equalise with 12 minutes
to go but blasted over before defender Maicon doubled the
advantage on 84 minutes, side-footing home from eight yards
after the ball broke to him in the box.
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