Inter beat AC Milan 2-1 in Serie A

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> Inter Milan scored two second-half goals on Sunday to beat AC Milan 2-1 in the Serie A.

Updated: March 22, 2007 06:37 IST
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Inter Milan scored two second-half goals on Sunday to beat AC Milan 2-1 in the Serie A. Julio Ricardo Cruz equalised in the 54th minute after Ronaldo had scored against his former club in the 40th. Cruz then set up Zlatan Ibrahimovic for the winning goal in the 75th. Inter, which downed Milan 4-3 in October, has beaten its city rival twice in a Serie A season for the first time in 25 years. "It's really satisfying," Inter coach Roberto Mancini said. "It has been an extraordinary and unrepeatable season for us." Inter is undefeated in Italy's top division and leads with 73 points _ 33 more than Milan, which started the season with an eight-point penalty from the Italian match-fixing scandal. It was Milan's first loss in 16 games. "Inter deserved it," Ronaldo said. "(Inter) has had a great season." The derby marked Ronaldo's first game against his old club since returning to Italy. He received a hostile reception from the Inter fans and was met with banners reading, "The clown has arrived. The circus is full," and "Ronaldo Iscariot." But the Brazil forward, who moved to Milan in January from Real Madrid, beat Inter goalkeeper Julio Cesar with a bending shot five minutes before halftime to give his team the lead. "Ronaldo is a dangerous player," Mancini said. "Give him space and he will punish you." It was Ronaldo's fifth goal in the Milan derby but his first against Inter. Cruz later tapped in Ibrahimovic's cross from the right, seconds after replacing Hernan Crespo, and was unlucky not to give Inter the lead three minutes later when his nonchalant backheel sailed over the crossbar. "Cruz is fabulous," Mancini said. "He did well to come on and score after only six seconds and provided an important assist." In the 75th, Cruz cut the ball back to Ibrahimovic, who beat Dida diving to his right from just inside the area. Cheered and booed Ronaldo, who played for Inter before moving to Madrid, was booed and whistled every time he touched the ball, which in the opening exchanges was very little as Olivier Dacourt led Inter in closing down the space in midfield when Milan had possession. Crespo had the game's first chance in the second minute when Milan defender Daniele Bonera gave the ball away on the edge of the area but the striker scuffed his shot, which Milan goalkeeper Dida saved comfortably. However, Ronaldo saw more of the ball as the Rossoneri began to string passes together. Ronaldo earned a free kick on the edge of the area, which Andrea Pirlo sent wide in the 15th, and followed that up with two shots on target that were blocked by Inter's defense. Pirlo went close again in the 22nd with a booming effort that Cesar tipped over the bar. A minute later, Crespo was gifted another ball on the edge of the area but sent his curling shot wide. Inter was unlucky not to be awarded a penalty in the 30th when Daniele Bonera fouled Ibrahimovic inside the area but referee Nicola Rizzoli judged that the Sweden forward dived and handed him a yellow card. Ronaldo also had a goal disallowed three minutes later for offsides. Crespo squandered a third opportunity with a header in the 37th and Luis Figo sent a shot across the face of goal in the 39th. The result capped a week of mixed fortunes for Milan's two powerhouses. Kaka scored in the third minute of extra time Wednesday to give Milan a 1-0 win over Celtic and a spot in the quarterfinals of the Champions League for the fifth straight year. Inter was eliminated by Valencia on away goals Tuesday following two draws. "We were tired in the second half," Milan coach Carlo Ancelotti said. "Wednesday's extra time affected my players today." Under anti-violence measures, the derby was played in the afternoon, rather than at night, for the first time. A minute's silence was held before the game in memory of former Italy and Inter striker Benito Lorenzi, who died last week.

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