Serie A: Inter beat Lazio, Roma win too

December 5, 2007

MILAN, Dec 5 (Reuters) - Inter Milan stayed three points clear at the top of Serie A after a 3-0 home win over Lazio on Wednesday with second-placed AS Roma also beating struggling Cagliari 2-0 in their game in hand.

A controversial Zlatan Ibrahimovic penalty, Maicon's tap in after woeful Lazio marking and David Suazo's goal lifted Inter up to 34 points, three above Roma and eight ahead of third-placed Juventus having now all played 14 games.

A first-half double from midfielder Rodrigo Taddei, also due in part to poor defending, gave Roma a comfortable home victory with Francesco Totti making his first start for a month and a half after a foot problem.

The two matches were postponed on Nov. 11 following the shooting of a Lazio fan by a policeman at a service station.

Inter made the most of the game in hand although Lazio, floundering in the bottom half and on the brink of Champions League elimination, had the better of the early exchanges.

The champions were slightly fortunate to be awarded a penalty on 22 minutes when Guglielmo Stendardo was adjudged to have pulled down Nicolas Burdisso at a corner.

Lazio protested furiously before Ibrahimovic blasted his eighth league goal of the season high into the net.

Inter extended their lead on 33 minutes when right back Maicon took advantage of non-existent marking to turn in Luis Jimenez's corner under the nose of Lazio's 43-year-old keeper Marco Ballotta. Suazo added the third on 55 minutes.

Portuguese 20-year-old Pele made his first league start in midfield for injury-hit Inter, who were without Luis Figo, Patrick Vieira, Dejan Stankovic and Olivier Dacourt.

'We played a very professional game,' Inter midfielder and man-of-the-match Esteban Cambiasso told Sky television. 'It was very important for the route to the scudetto. We have a very clear objective.'

Roma, runners-up last term, were always in control against the Sardinians and went ahead on 28 minutes when Taddei rose unchallenged to head in David Pizarro's freekick from close range.

The Brazilian scored again 10 minutes from the break when he netted from the edge of the area after Mancini, who hit the bar in the second period, had been denied.

Inter are still unbeaten in the Serie A this season and host mid-table Torino on Sunday while Roma visit strugglers Livorno.