Rome, Jan 25 (Calcutta Tube) Inter Milan flexed their muscles to confirm their supremacy in the Serie A through a 2-0 beating of AC Milan late Sunday despite the dismissals of Wesley Sneijder and Lucio.
Diego Milito and Goran Pandev secured the champions’ victory at the Giuseppe Meazza, which pushed them onto 49 points from 21 games, with Milan trailing on 40 with a game in hand.
Inter dithered in their last two outings, but their hammering start produced a woodwork-shaking drive from Dutchman Sneijder and a dangerous close-range shot from Esteban Cambiasso that Dida saved with his boot before being beaten on 10 minutes by Milito’s searing drive.
The young Milan defender Ignazio Abate lent the Argentine striker a precious hand as he involuntarily set him up for a diagonal drive past the Brazilian goalkeeper.
Milito had another drive saved on 15 minutes before the dismissal on 26 minutes of Sneijder for ironically clapping his hands at the referee after he booked Brazilian Lucio for a theatrical dive.
In the remainder of the first half, Milan failed to profit from the advantage as Inter had little problems controlling their lone striker Marco Borriello.
Ronaldinho opened the second half with a wide drive as Milan brought on Dutchman Clarence Seedorf for Gennaro Gattuso and produced a massive but sterile pressure.
Inter’s counter attacks were far more dangerous, with Milito firing feebly on 55 minutes and his Macedonia striking mate Pandev hitting the post before stunning a dithering Dida with a swerving free kick on 75 minutes.
A final thrill came in injury time from the dismissal of Lucio and the squandering of the following spot kick by Ronaldinho.
Earlier Sunday, Napoli strengthened their hold on fourth place through a 2-0 win clinched at 10-man minnows Livorno.
Palermo also moved up to leapfrog troubled Juventus in fifth place as young Uruguayan Abel Hernandez scored a brace in a 3-0 drubbing of guests Fiorentina.
A fifth defeat in the last six games dropped Juve to sixth as Roma rallied to a 2-1 win late Saturday to retain third place, eight points adrift of leaders Inter Milan.
Two points behind Juve lie Palermo, while Cagliari and Fiorentina are also close to the two Europa League berths.
Sampdoria rallied for a 3-2 win over Udinese, who took the lead when Antonio Di Natale took a spot kick to score his 13th goal and remain at the top of the scorers’ table next to Milito.
Genoa beat lowly Atalanta 2-0 and Cagliari drew 1-1 at bottom side Siena in a game that both sides closed with 10 men.
Bologna moved above the danger zone through a 2-1 win over in-form Bari that bore the signature of second-half Uruguayan substitute Henry Gimenez.
Lazio are still in trouble after a 1-1 home draw to Chievo, while Catania remained in the three-team drop zone despite beating Parma 3-0 on Saturday.