Inter defeated bitter local rivals AC Milan 2-1 in a thrilling derby at the San Siro on Sunday to close in on a fourth straight title.
First-half goals from Adriano and Dejan Stankovic fired Inter to a nine-point lead over Juventus at the top of Serie A, with Milan a further two points back as their Scudetto hopes all but died.
?here are still 33 points up for grabs, there is a long way to go yet. I cannot think the Scudetto is over,?Inter coach Jose Mourinho said. ? can say that if we don? win it, then it will be because we?e given it away. It? in our hands now.?br />
Before the match, Milan coach Carlo Ancelotti said he would pick a team capable of combating Inter? physical and aerial threat, but the nominal visitors at the ground the two clubs share failed to do exactly that and paid the price.
However, he blamed the defeat on a handball in Adriano? opener.
? don? know if it was intentional or not, but it was decisive,?Ancelotti said. ? think we played well and I expect us to always play like this. It? not easy, but we will try. It wasn? just Inter who dominated for long periods because in the first half we were often the better side. Inter made the most of their high balls, which were difficult for us to cope with. The title isn? over, Inter have a lead to hold onto and we?l try to bounce back.?br />
Milan were playing some attractive soccer early on, but without overly threatening the Inter goal.
One sweeping move that went from left to right ended with Gianluca Zambrotta trying a speculative bicycle kick, but his effort plopped tamely into Julio Cesar? arms.
Inter opened Milan up after 17 minutes and only a last ditch tackle from Massimo Ambrosini saved the seven-time European champions, although Stankovic dithered on Esteban Cambiasso? pass a moment too long.
Milan had a few half chances and Pato couldn? quite get enough purchase on Ronaldinho? ball into the area to trouble Julio Cesar, while Ronaldinho met a David Beckham corner on the volley without connecting cleanly.
They were made to pay for that when a deep Maicon cross from the right on 29 minutes was headed home by Adriano, via a deflection off his own arm.
Inter doubled their lead two minutes before the break when Zlatan Ibrahimovic headed down a long ball into Stankovic? path for the Serbian to rifle home.
Adriano could have settled the match early in the second period after a slip by Georgia center-back Kakha Kaladze, but the Brazil striker curled his shot narrowly wide.
Inter were cruising until 19 minutes from time when a perfect Ronaldinho through ball put in Marek Jankulovski, who pulled the ball back for Pato to tap home.
There was late drama as substitute Filippo Inzaghi seemed to have snatched an equalizer with a stunning left foot volley, but it was controversially chalked off for offside.
Inzaghi had another chance in stoppage time, but Julio Cesar saved with an outstretched boot.
Earlier in the day, Juventus saw their title hopes dealt yet another blow as they were held to a 1-1 home draw by Sampdoria.
They have won just one of their last four matches and that only courtesy of an injury-time winner from Denmark midfielder Christian Poulsen at Catania last weekend.
Juve fell behind to Giampaolo Pazzini? 10th-minute opener for Sampdoria following a pass from reported Juve target Antonio Cassano.