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Title race goes to wire with Inter still in pole position
MILAN, April 28 (AFP)
Inter Milan beat nine-man Piacenza 3-1 Sunday to stay ahead of fellow title contenders Juventus and AS Roma who both won convincingly to ensure the Italian title race will go down to the wire.
Inter in the end won easily enough but had to rely on late goals from Alvaro Recoba and Ronaldo after Piacenza's Brazilian Da Silva Matuzalem had equalised an opener by Ivan Cordoba.
Their task was made easier by the dismissals of Vincenzo Sommese and Matuzalem.
Inter's rivals were far more emphatic with second-placed Juventus trouncing Brescia 5-0 with three goals for David Trezeguet and two for Alessandro Del Piero.
Champions Roma spanked Chievo 5-0 thanks to a Vincenzo Montella hat-trick and one apiece from Brazilian Emerson and substitute Antonio Cassano.
But Inter will win the title if they beat Lazio in Rome next week in their final match. They lead Juventus by a point and Roma by two although the possibility remains of a two-legged play-off if two teams finish level on points.
Juve travel to Udinese while Roma will visit Torino in next week's final round of fixtures.
Inter's Argentinian coach Hector Cuper showed a rare glimpse of humour when asked about the prospects of the three teams in the title race.
"I hope all three of us win - then we will all be happy," said Cuper who has acquired a reputation as a perennial runner-up after losing two Champions League finals with Valencia and a Cup Winners Cup Final with Real Mallorca.
Roma assistant coach Italo Galbiati, standing in for the banned Fabio Capello, said: "We just have to play next week like we did today - we were excellent - although we are totally in the hands of our rivals."
Juventus coach Marcello Lippi said: "I said we would be in this until the end and we are. Now we just have to wait and see what happens and make sure we keep our part of the bargain."
In Milan, Inter struck early when Colombian defender Cordoba poked home from close range but Inter failed to press home the advantage and after 35 minutes Matuzalem equalised for Piacenza.
Inter's cause was lifted by the sending-off of Sommese and Uruguayan Recoba took full advantage, scoring from a freekick.
Then Brazilian Ronaldo killed the match with the sending off of Matuzalem quickly following.
At Turin Juve also took an early lead.
Alessandro Del Piero's corner was headed home by Trezeguet for his 21st goal of the season and Brescia's veteran coach Carlo Mazzone was promptly banished to the stands by referee Salvatore Racalbuto for dissent.
Brescia defender Daniele Bonera, who has an outside chance of going to the World Cup, was also sent off in the second half before Del Piero and Trezeguet plundered four more goals between them, the Frenchman becoming the division's top scorer with 23 goals.
AC Milan's quest for a place in the Champions League was lifted by a 2-1 win at Verona who scored a brilliant opener through prolific Romanian Adrian Mutu, his 12th of the campaign. /p
AC Milan's Brazilian midfielder Serginho missed a second-half penalty but then Filippo Inzaghi and Andrea Pirlo ensured victory for Milan.
Level with Milan in fourth are Bologna who beat Lazio 2-0 with goals from Lazio favourite Giuseppe Signori and Fabio Pecchia while Giulio Falcone was sent off.
Fiorentina may be already relegated but they were quick off the mark at home to Parma when Brazilian Adriano scored after four minutes.
But two goals from Marco Di Vaio took his tally for the season to 19 as he saved his club from relegation with a 2-1 win.
Another relegated side - bottom club Venezia - drew 1-1 with Torino whose striker Marco Ferrante missed two penalties, one saved by Generoso Rossi.
Venezia's Filippo Manieri converting his 17th goal of the season - from the penalty spot - but Torino defender Fabio Galante grabbed a late point.
Udinese won their fight against relegation when David Di Michele gave them the points with two goals in the second half including a penalty for a 2-1 victory over Lecce. Uruguayan Guillermo Giacomazzi scored for the relegated southerners.
Although Udinese can be joined on 40 points if Piacenza and Verona their match next week and Brescia win they and Verona would stay up because of a better record in head-to-head matches among the four teams while Brescia and Piacenza would play off to decide who goes down.
It was also 2-1 at Bergamo. Perugia midfielder Giovanni Tedesco gave his club a 15th-minute lead but hosts Atalanta prevailed with an own goal from Salvatore Blasi and Luciano Zauri's second-half strike.
 
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