Serie A: Inter go clear as Roma hit seven

November 19, 2006

MILAN, Nov 19 (Reuters) - Inter Milan moved three points clear at the top of Serie A after Argentine Hernan Crespo's fourth minute goal gave them a 1-0 win over Reggina at the San Siro on Sunday while rivals AS Roma crushed Catania 7-0.

Champions Inter opened up a gap over rivals Palermo who lost 1-0 to Cagliari on Saturday. Roberto Mancini's side have 30 points, Palermo are on 27 while Roma are on 26 after their roasting of Catania.

Midfielder Simone Perrotta and defender Christian Panucci scored twice each for Roma against a Catania side who had striker Giuseppe Mascara sent off in the 15th minute.

Rome's other club Lazio also enjoyed an emphatic win against Sicilian opponents, Italy midfielder Stefano Mauri scoring twice in a 4-1 win at Messina.

Inter took an early lead when French midfielder Patrick Vieira glanced a header to an unmarked Crespo who volleyed home from close range.

But Reggina responded well, putting Inter under pressure with Simone Missiroli hitting the post before their Honduran striker Leon forced a great save out of Inter's Brazilian keeper Julio Cesar.

Inter introduced Brazilian striker Adriano, who had been rested for the past month, as a substitute after the break but while the forward looked sharp, Inter failed to extend their lead.

Mancini's side were relieved when a late effort from Rolando Bianchi was disallowed for offside. The Inter coach said his side had found it hard going.

'It was a difficult match for us and Reggina deserve credit for the way they played,' said Mancini. 'The fact is that if you don't wrap up the game you are going to find it hard work against a team like that.'

Roma went on the rampage at the Olympic stadium with Panucci heading them in front before Mascara was red-carded for swinging his elbow at Roma defender Cristian Chivu.

Brazilian Mancini made it 2-0 with a left-foot shot before Perrotta finished off a solo run to put the game beyond Catania with just 25 minutes on the clock.

Perrotta hit his second and Roma's fourth with a drive from the edge of the area and then after the break Panucci tapped in from close range before substitute Vincenzo Montella made it 6-0 with a goal on the break.

Roma's seventh came from captain Francesco Totti, who pounced on a clearance to fire home a shot from the edge of the area and complete the rout.

Catania's misery was completed when Davide Baiocco was sent off in the last minute for a second yellow card.