Materazzi leap keeps Inter on course for title

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The Independent Football

Internazionale will retain their title if they beat Milan in next weekend's derby after the Serie A leaders beat Cagliari 2-1 yesterday.

Julio Cruz claimed the first goal although the ball seemed to come off the Cagliari defender Paolo Bianco's shoulder last, but there was no doubt about Marco Materazzi's towering header in the second half.

Cagliari, who have hauled themselves away from the relegation zone in recent weeks, had several chances and deserved Davide Biondini's goal in injury time.

"It changes nothing, it is just important to win. It doesn't matter much," coach Roberto Mancini said when asked about the prospect of winning the scudetto against Milan.

Second-placed Roma, six points behind with three games left but with a worse head-to-head record, made sure the title race would continue for another weekend by thrashing struggling Torino 4-1 at home.

David Pizarro's penalty, Mirko Vucinic's finish from a tight angle and a double from Alessandro Mancini gave Roma a healthy first-half lead before Nicola Ventola pulled one back for Torino, now just a point above the drop zone.

Fifth-placed Milan still have a lot to play for against Inter next Sunday after Filippo Inzaghi scored a hat-trick and Clarence Seedorf added the gloss in a 4-1 win at bottom side Livorno, who are looking doomed.

Daniele Gastaldello's header deep into stoppage time gave Sampdoria a 2-2 draw at fourth-placed Fiorentina and means Milan are just two points behind Rangers' Uefa Cup semi-final opponents in the race for the final Champions League qualifying spot.

Fiorentina thought they had taken the three points when Adrian Mutu slotted in a controversial penalty five minutes from time. Christian Vieri had earlier brought the hosts level after Christian Maggio had coolly opened the scoring for Sampdoria, who stay four points behind Fiorentina.

Juventus, in third, secured their Champions League spot with a 5-2 win over Lazio. Defender Giorgio Chiellini scored twice while David Trezeguet and Alessandro del Piero both scored in their race to be Serie A top scorer, with 19 and 18 goals respectively.

Francesco Cozza also scored twice as Reggina came from behind to beat 10-man Parma 2-1 in a relegation six-pointer. Reggina remain in the bottom three after a 1-0 win at Genoa kept Empoli just outside the relegation zone.