Mon, Dec 25, 2006 - Page 19 News List

Inter beat Atalanta to record 11 straight wins

AFP , ROME

AC Milan defender Cafu crontrols the ball during his Serie A match against Udinese at Friuli stadium on Saturday

PHOTO: AFP

Italian league leaders Inter Milan equalled the Serie A record of 11 consecutive wins after fighting back from a goal down to beat Atalanta 2-1 on Saturday.

A hard-fought victory at the San Siro in the final round of games before the winter break saw Inter match Roma's winning streak of last season and maintain their seven-point cushion at the top of the table.

Cristiano Doni gave Atalanta a deserved half-time lead before Adriano equalised with his first goal in an Inter shirt for nine months.

Atalanta defender Simone Loria headed into his own net 15 minutes from time to gift Roberto Mancini's side three crucial points.

Inter have 48 points from their 18 matches played, seven more than Roma who won 2-0 at home to Cagliari.

Rodrigo Taddei's spectacular overhead kick set the 2001 champions on their way before his fellow Brazilian Mancini found the net with a crisp shot.

Palermo remain third but dropped further off the pace after being held 1-1 at Siena, while Gionatha Spinesi scored a hat-trick as Catania beat Sampdoria 4-2, propelling the Sicilian dark horses up to fourth place.

Lazio moved up to fifth after coming back from a goal down to beat Parma 3-1. The win was even more remarkable given the fact that Lazio had defender Sebastiano Seviglia sent off in the 15th minute.

AC Milan, who were forced to start on minus eight points for their part in the Italian match-fixing scandal, continued their push for a Champions League place with a comfortable 3-0 win at Udinese.

Kaka opened the scoring with a penalty before Alberto Gilardino and Ricardo Oliveira ended Udinese's resistance.

Fiorentina hammered Messina 4-0 and Reggina thrashed Empoli 4-1, while Livorno drew 1-1 at home to Torino. Bottom club Ascoli defeated fellow strugglers Chievo 3-0 for their first win of the season.

Inter, who finished third last season but were awarded the title after Juventus and AC Milan were found guilty of match-fixing, fell behind in the 16th minute against a spirited Atalanta.

Luca Ariatti slipped a clever ball between two Inter defenders for Doni to run onto, and he drilled a right-footed shot into the top corner from the edge of the 18-yard box for his seventh goal of the season.

Inter went agonizingly close to levelling the score shortly after the break when Maxwell's low cross was nudged to the back post by Hernan Crespo, but Adriano's outstretched boot just failed to connect.

The Brazilian persevered and he finally ended his barren spell -- which dated back to March 29 when he netted against Villarreal in the Champions League -- diving low to head home Luis Figo's cross in the 65th minute.

Inter surged ahead 10 minutes later when another Figo cross was turned into his own net by Loria.

Play was briefly suspended as Atalanta fans behind Julio Cesar's goal hurled firecrackers onto the pitch, one of which almost hit the Inter keeper.

Julio Cesar pulled off a fine save to deny Massimo Donati and Maxwell cleared Ariatti's header off the goalline as Inter came under the cosh in the closing stages.

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