Inter win fourth straight title
© AFP

Inter Milan won a fourth straight league title despite not playing when nearest challengers AC Milan lost 2-1 at Udinese. Second-placed Milan trail Inter, who host Siena on Sunday, by seven points, but the Rossonero have only two matches left to play.

Milan's defeat meant that Inter coach Jose Mourinho has won the scudetto in his first season in Italian football after joining in June last year. It is Mourinho's fifth title in seven years in three different countries having claimed the Portuguese crown with Porto in 2003 and 2004 and the English Premier League trophy in 2005 and 2006 with Chelsea.

Milan went into the game knowing that they had to get a result to stop their bitter city rivals claiming the title, but they put in one of their worst performances of the season in what could be one of coach Carlo Ancelotti's final matches in charge with rumours growing that he will join Chelsea next season. The coach was magnanimous in defeat, but was clearly unhappy with his players.

"Did Inter deserve the title? I think they've been the most consistent team and hence they deserved to win," he said. "Tonight I wasn't expecting us to play as we did. We never turned up."

The first half was a drab affair with few notable scoring chances until Udinese opened their account from the penalty spot. Antonio Floro Flores burst into the Milan box behind the backline to latch on to Geatano D'Agostino's through ball, but veteran defender Paolo Maldini leaned on him just enough to knock him off balance as he tried to take the ball around goalkeeper Dida.

Maldini, who will play only two more games for Milan this season before retiring, was perhaps lucky to escape with only a booking. However, the visitors were punished when D'Agostino fired the ball into the net from the spot-kick, high to Dida's right.

I wasn't expecting us to play as we did. We never turned up.
AC Milan coach Carlo Ancelotti

That was the only clear chance of the first half although Andrea Pirlo clipped a free-kick just wide for the visitors, with Udinese goalkeeper Samir Handanovic seemingly having it well covered. Ancelotti reacted quickly by throwing on striker Filippo Inzaghi for defensive midfielder Mathieu Flamini at the break, but four minutes later Udinese had doubled their advantage.

Milan's defence went to sleep at a corner and Christian Zapata was left alone at the back post to fire home a dropping ball from barely two yards out. Ancelotti threw on Ronaldinho and Andrei Shevchenko, but it was not until injury time that Milan came alive. Inzaghi hit the outside of the post before Massimo Ambrosini headed home a consolation, but things could have been worse as Fabio Quagliarella crashed a shot against the upright for the hosts with virtually the last kick of the match.

Panucci header
In Rome's Stadio Olimpico, Christian Panucci scored an injury-time winner as Roma beat Catania 4-3 to close in on a Europa League place next season. The hosts had looked likely to be frustrated by their mid-table opponents, who had battled back from a 3-1 half-time deficit to level at 3-3 with 17 minutes to play after Japanese striker Takayuki Morimoto's equaliser.

But Roma kept pushing and, with the match in injury time, Panucci headed home a David Pizarro cross from close range to snatch the three points. Panucci's strike put sixth-placed Roma five points clear of the competition in the race for the last European qualification position.