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AC win Milan derby to go fourth and delay Inter title party

SoccerNews in Serie A 4 May 2008

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AC Milan triumphed 2-1 over Inter in the Milan derby at the San Siro on Sunday to boost their hopes of Champions League football next season and delay their city rivals' title celebrations.

AS Roma's impressive 3-0 win at Sampdoria ensured champions Inter still need three more points from their final two matches to clinch a third straight crown.

After Fiorentina's 2-1 defeat at Cagliari, Milan moved up to fourth and now have Champions League qualification within their own hands.

The relief was palpable among Milan's players, who are coming to the end of a long and troubled season.

“I'm so emotional, we've won, Fiorentina lost. We did what Inter should have done,” playmaker Kaka told Sky TV.

“They haven't won the title and we've taken a step towards the Champions League. Now everything depends on us.”

Predictably, hosts Milan made the brighter opening in the day's big match.

Massimo Ambrosini and Giuseppe Favalli were both wildly off target with early long-range efforts before the Kaka-Filippo Inzaghi partnership started kicking into gear.

On 20 minutes world player of the year Kaka prepared to shoot on the edge of the area but fooled everyone by playing in Inzaghi instead. Inter's Brazilian goalkeeper Julio Cesar stood up well, though, and blocked his shot for a corner.

Ten minutes from the break Daniele Bonera got to the byline but his cross was just too high for Inzaghi in the six yard box after good build up play involving Kaka and Gennaro Gattuso.

Milan should have had the lead in first half stoppage time as Kaka broke down the right and crossed for Inzaghi but his stooping header from three yards somehow drifted wide of the far post.

Milan started the second half as they had ended the first, putting pressure on the leaders and their greater endeavour soon paid off.

Ambrosini had just headed an Andrea Pirlo corner over from close range before Kaka and Inzaghi combined once again, the Brazilian crossing for the Italian veteran to nod home at the near post from barely a yard out.

That seemed to spark Inter into action and Maicon raced down the right but overhit his cross into the centre with both Julio Cruz and Hernan Crespo unmarked and waiting to pounce.

But France captain Patrick Vieira gifted Milan a second with a misplaced back-pass that Kaka gleefully accepted before firing low past Julio Cesar.

That seemed to snap Inter out of their lethargy and Portugal midfielder Maniche stung Australian goalkeeper Zeljko Kalac's hands before the Milan stopper was out quickly to block from Crespo.

Kalac then had to tip over a long range effort from Brazilian full-back Maicon before Inter coach Roberto Mancini threw on a third striker in teenager Mario Balotelli for Maniche.

Inter piled on the pressure and with 14 minutes to play Cruz curled home a free-kick that left Kalac flat footed.

Milan held on grimly though and the title and Champions League qualification race will both go on for at least another week.

Roma scored three times in the final quarter of an hour to beat Sampdoria. Veteran Italy defender Christian Panucci notched the first before Chile midfielder David Pizarro and Brazilian wing-back Cicinho added the others.

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