Materazzi's miss sets up nervous finale for Inter

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The Independent Online

Internazionale missed another chance to retain their Serie A title when they were held 2-2 at home by Siena yesterday. Marco Materazzi had a penalty saved.

Second-placed Roma beat Atalanta 2-1 to cut the gap to one point with one round of matches remaining. Inter, who lost to Milan last week to spurn a first chance of sealing the title, visit relegation-threatened Parma on Sunday; Roma go to Catania, who could also go down. Bottom side Livorno were relegated after a 1-0 defeat at home while Empoli must beat Livorno on Sunday to have any chance of staying up after they lost 2-0 at Reggina, who are now safe.

Yesterday, Fiorentina came from behind to beat Parma 3-1 to move into the final Champions League qualifying place after Milan, now two points behind, lost 3-1 at Napoli. Catania were heading for safety with a minute to go in their game at third-placed Juventus, before Alessandro Del Piero scored for a 1-1 draw.

Inter looked to be cruising to the title when, after 11 minutes, Patrick Vieira headed in a corner after sustained pressure. However, the former Middlesbrough striker Massimo Maccarone equalised for Siena. Inter's 17-year-old striker Mario Balotelli sent a packed San Siro crazy when he nodded in his side's second on half-time but Houssine Kharja, a former Roma player, brought Siena level again with a neat finish. The drama was far from over, though, as Materazzi's nervous penalty was well-saved by the former Arsenal keeper Alex Manninger 12 minutes from time.

Roma, who were 11 points behind Inter in February, beat Atalanta thanks to Christian Panucci's header and Daniele De Rossi's free-kick. Luciano Spalletti's side will take the title if they win next week and Inter fail to do the same. A draw will not be enough for Roma, even if Inter lose, as Roberto Mancini's team have the better head-to-head record.

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