Inter go top after nervy 4-3 win over Chievo

September 24, 2006

ROME, Sept 24 (Reuters) - Inter Milan went top of Serie A on Sunday when they held off a late fight-back by Chievo Verona to win 4-3 at the San Siro stadium.

The Italian champions seemed set for an easy victory after a brace by striker Hernan Crespo and a goal each by Dejan Stankovic and Walter Samuel put them 4-0 ahead, but three goals in the last 15 minutes by the visitors ensured a nervy finale.

The result gave Inter 10 points from four matches, one point more than AS Roma, who routed Parma 4-0.

Palermo also have nine points, but the Sicilian club's hopes of maintaining their 100 percent winning start to the season were dashed when they missed an early penalty in a surprise 2-0 defeat at Empoli.

Spurred on by their 1-0 midweek win over title rivals Roma, Inter wasted little time dismantling Chievo's defence.

Crespo, who scored the winner in Rome, caught them napping after just 11 minutes, breaking the offside trap with a perfectly-timed run before angling a shot past visiting keeper Lorenzo Squizzi.

Chievo were pressed back into their half but hung on until the 58th minute when Samuel took advantage of a short punched clearance by Squizzi to head the ball through a crowded area into the net.

Stankovic scored Inter's third with superb 25-metre drive into the top corner before Adriano launched a perfectly-weighted pass into the path of Crespo to beat Squizzi again in the 70th minute, this time with his right foot.

Sergio Pellissier pulled one back for Chievo from the penalty spot in the 76th minute after he tumbled over keeper Julio Cesar, but it seemed little more than a late consolation goal.

When panicky defending allowed Simone Tiribocchi and Matteo Brighi to grab two more goals in the 85th and 87th minutes, however, Inter revealed the same frailties they showed earlier this month when they frittered away a 3-0 lead in an edgy 3-2 win over Fiorentina.

'We just can't afford to do this again,' said Inter coach Roberto Mancini, looking forward to his side's Champions League match against Bayern Munich on Wednesday.

'We played well for 76 minutes, then we switched off. We have to be more attentive.'

COMPOSED ROMA

Roma gave a far more composed performance against Parma. Vincenzo Montella opened the scoring in the fifth minute before Simone Perrotta made it 2-0 with a goal on the counter-attack just before halftime.

Nineteen-year-old midfielder Aleandro Rosi grabbed his first Serie A goal nine minutes after the restart and Alberto Aquilani sealed the result in stoppage time.

The big surprise of the day came at Empoli, where Palermo seemed set for their fourth win in four matches when they earned a 25th-minute penalty for a foul on striker Amauri.

Franco Brienza's miss from the spot was punished three minutes later when Luca Saudati seized the home side's first chance to head past keeper Federico Agliardi.

The goal seemed to deflate Palermo's players and Sergio Almiron grabbed Empoli's second goal early in the second half, dribbling round two defenders before blasting a shot into the top corner.

In a later match (kickoff 1830 GMT) Udinese were at home to Fiorentina, who were still on minus 16 points after being punished in the match-fixing scandal.