Inter claim crown as Ibrahimovic strikes twice

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The Independent Online

Nobody can accuse Internazionale of not making things interesting. After dominating Serie A for most of the season and building an 11-point lead by February, Inter stumbled and almost fell before clinching their third straight title yesterday with a 2-0 win over Parma in the last game of the season.

By all accounts, this scudetto, the 16th in Inter's 100-year history, is the one that counts most. They won the title two years when Juventus and Milan were disqualified for their involvement in the calciopoli match-fixing scandal. Inter won again last year, although Milan started the season with an eight-point handicap and Juventus was relegated to Serie B for their part in the scandal.

After wrapping up the title five games early last year, Inter needed two goals by Zlatan Ibrahimovic against Parma, who were relegated as a result, to secure it this time.

They had blown two previous chances to claim the title, first with a defeat in the derby against Milan and then last week with a draw against Siena. Inter won back-to-back titles in the 1950s and again in the 1960s, but had never won three in succession. Only Juventus with 27, and Milan with 17, have more titles.

Roberto Mancini's side had looked shaky as the spring wore on and Roma went on a winning streak that cut into their lead. An early elimination from the Champions League by Liverpool marred Inter's dominance in Serie A and showed domestic rivals the Nerazzuri were not unbeatable

Immediately following the defeat to Liverpool in March, Mancini announced that he would resign at the end of the season, then changed his mind after meeting with team owner Massimo Moratti a few days later.

A difficult period followed as Roma, buoyed after eliminating Real Madrid in the Champions League, cut away at Inter's lead. Though Mancini's motivation for announcing his resignation and then the retraction were never made entirely clear, he may have been reacting to a reported meeting between Moratti and Jose Mourinho.

Inter's joy was increased yesterday as Milan failed to qualify for next season's Champions League. Pablo Osvaldo's overhead kick secured a 1-0 win for Fiorentina at Torino, meant the Viola finished fourth and Milan, who beat Udinese 4-1 with Cafu scoring on his last game for the club, had to be content with fifth.

Roma finished second after starting the day with hopes of pipping Inter. Their 1-1 draw with Catania kept the Sicilian side up and relegated Empoli.

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