Roma's bid fades as Inter march on

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The Independent Football

Inter Milan won an Italian league record 12th straight match on Saturday, scoring a pair of second-half goals to beat Torino 3-1 and pull away to a 10-point lead in the Serie A.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored with a spectacular diagonal volley in the 60th to break a 1-1 tie and Marco Materazzi added a penalty in the 84th to complete the victory.

Inter impoved to 51 points, followed by AS Roma with 41 and Palermo with 35. Roma and Palermo play their 19th-round matches on Sunday.

Also Saturday, Empoli beat 10-man Parma 2-0 with goals by Andrea Raggi and Davide Matteini in the only other Serie A match.

In the Serie B, Mantova beat Juventus 1-0 for the Turin club's first league defeat of the season.

At Torino's Stadio Olimpico, Adriano gave Inter the lead in the 24th minute a header on a cross by Olivier Dacourt, his third goal in as many games following a nine-month scoring drought.

Stefano Fiore equalized in the 58th but Ibrahimovic and Materazzi's goal enabled Inter to eclipsed Roma's 11-game winning streak accomplished last season.

"It doesn't change anything," Inter coach Roberto Mancini said. "Twelve consecutive victories are important because they can take us towards something prestigious ... but winning the league is the only thing that counts."

Adriano and Ibrahimovic combined to release Patrick Vieira on goal in the 42nd, but the France midfielder's long-range effort was punched away by Abbiati.

Adriano missed easy opportunities inside the penalty area in the 45th and 68th minutes, scuffing the first and failing to beat Abbiati with the second.

He beat Torino's offside trap in the 82nd, only to be tripped by Abbiati who mistimed his save. Abbiati received a red card and was replaced by Massimo Taibi.

"(Adriano) did pretty well," Mancini said. "But I think he's capable of much more. The positive thing is that he's improving."

Fiore was lucky to score, his shot deflecting off Materazzi to wrongfoot goalkeeper Julio Cesar.

At Empoli's Carlo Castellani stadium, Raggi scored with a header in the 26th minute and Matteini added another in the 77th from in front of the posts.

Parma defender Ferdinand Coly was sent off in the 57th with his second yellow card.

Empoli climbed to sixth in the standings with 25 points and has played one less game. Parma, which has conceded a league-high 35 goals, is next-to-last with 12 points.

In Mantova, Marco Bernacci scored in the 52nd minute from close range, although TV replays suggested teammate Gaetano Caridi, who provided the assist, was offside in the buildup.

Juventus, which was demoted and also docked nine points in the Italian match-fixing scandal, dropped to sixth in the standings with 32 points. It is three behind leader Napoli, although the Bianconeri have played one less game. Mantova has 33 points.

After the three-week winter break, Juventus looked rusty, particularly in midfield, where possession was given away too often.

Bernacci was unlucky not to score on two occasions in the first half, shooting wide in the seventh minute and heading over in the 37th.

Juventus coach Didier Deschamps sent on Italy midfielder Mauro Camoranesi in the 57th and the team began to find its rhythm.

Camoranesi almost set up David Trezeguet for an equalizer in the 73rd, but the France forward's effort was cleared off the line.

Alessandro Del Piero missed Juventus' best chance in the 90th, blasting over from close range.

Juventus and Italy goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon was substituted in the 79th after sustaining a back injury.

Juventus was without suspended midfielder Pavel Nedved.

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