Totti saves Roma to set up finale
Two late goals from Francesco Totti gave AS Roma a nervy 2-1 victory at home to Cagliari on Sunday and ensured the Serie A title will be decided on the final day of the season. Inter Milan maintained their two-point lead at the top with a 4-3 success over Chievo at the San Siro that proved less comfortable than it should have been.
Inter travel to Siena while Roma will be entertained by Chievo next weekend where the nerazzurri can sew up a fifth title in a row with victory while Roma need to win and Inter to fail to do so to secure their first scudetto since 2001. At one stage in the afternoon's proceedings, Inter were cruising at 4-1 while an Andrea Lazzari goal direct from a free-kick gave Cagliari a shock 1-0 lead in Rome with just 17 minutes remaining, meaning Inter were virtual champions.
Inter fans were celebrating in the stands but two goals just four minutes apart from Roma captain and talisman Totti silenced them. And it was the perfect response from the 33-year-old forward who was roundly criticised in miidweek after being sent off in Roma's 1-0 Coppa Italia final defeat to Inter for a wild kick at Mario Balotelli.
His first was a cross shot from the left with 11 minutes left and his second, from the spot with seven minutes remaining, came after Davide Biondini was penalised for handling a John-Arne Riise cross. Roma had dominated the first period with Totti and Marco Motta hitting the post but they were lacklustre at the beginning of the second period and failed to heed the warnings when both Jeda and Alessandro Matri wasted glorious opportunities to give Cagliari the lead.
But after Lazzari's strike, Roma's dramatic late comeback ensured they are still alive and kicking. At the San Siro, Inter were off to a fast start as on five minutes Dejan Stankovic hit a blockbuster from distance that crashed back off the bar.
However, completely against the run of play Chievo took the lead on 12 minutes, thanks to some shoddy defending and a stroke of luck. Luciano flung over a free-kick from the right and Inter centre-back Walter Samuel seemed to duck under his header, missing the ball which then hit Thiago Motta on the chest and bounced beyond Julio Cesar for a bizarre own goal.
But just a minute later it was all square, both in terms of the score and the number of own goals as Samuel Eto'o juggled the ball in the box and fired it across goal where it bounced off Andrea Mantovani's hip and past a bemused Stefano Sorrentino.
On 34 minutes Inter were ahead as Maicon galloped down the right and crossed deep to the back post where Esteban Cambiasso arrived to side-foot home across Sorrentino with Luciano not doing enough to put him under pressure.
The third came with a touch of genius from Milito who chipped Sorrentino from 20 yards with the goalkeeper slightly off his line, although TV replays showed that a slight brush off a defender's shoulder probably proved decisive in spinning the ball over Sorrentino's outstretched hand.
Seven minutes after the break the game was effectively over as a contest as a long ball from Maicon sent Balotelli clear of the back line and he too lobbed Sorrentino as he rushed out to close the gap. Yet on the hour mark Chievo got what seemed a second consolation as Granoche touched a shot from distance from Michele Marcolini past Cesar.
But 16 minutes from time Sergio Pellissier burst through a gaping gap in an unusually porous Inter defence to sidefoot past Cesar and leave the home fans with their hearts in their mouths. In a thrilling finale Sorrentino made two great saves from Eto'o while substitute Goran Pandev hit the post from close range.
In other games Sampdoria drew 1-1 at Palermo to remained two points ahead of their hosts in the race for fourth place and Champions League football next season. Atalanta will join Livorno and Siena in Serie B next season as they were relegated following a 2-0 defeat at Napoli.