Samuel boosts Inter's powerful surge

Argentine keeps Mourinho's men six points clear at top of table after victory over Lazio
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The Independent Football

Jose Mourinho was no stranger to taking his Chelsea side on unbeaten runs and he is producing just the same form at Internazionale, who recorded their sixth straight victory in the league on Saturday. Walter Samuel and Zlatan Ibrahimovic were on target as the champions extended their lead at the top of the Serie A table to nine points – until Juventus cut it back to six last night – with a 3-0 win at Lazio.

The Argentine defender Samuel headed in the former Portsmouth player Sulley Muntari's cross in the second minute and Lazio's Mobido Diakité made it 2-0 on the stroke of half-time when he diverted a Maicon pass into his own net. Sweden's striker Ibrahimovic, who produced delightful touches throughout, nodded home the third goal 10 minutes into the second half to wrap up Inter's win.

"At the moment the team is well-balanced, but I don't want to express too much satisfaction," Mourinho said. "Football can betray you. I don't want us to be the winter champions. I want us to be champions in May."

The hosts pressed for the equaliser after getting over the shock of the opener by Samuel, who has returned to action after a long spell out with a knee injury.

Lazio's Aleksandar Kolarov, Lorenzo De Silvestri and Pasquale Foggia all came close with powerful efforts. Mauro Zarate was also unable to poke the ball home from close range after fellow striker Goran Pandev had cut through Inter's defence from the left in the first half.

Lazio kept attacking even at 3-0 down and thought they had pulled a goal back with a Kolarov free-kick in the 58th minute, but the referee had blown his whistle because of problems with the wall and ordered it to be taken again.

Roma continued their recovery from a terrible start to the season by beating basement side Chievo 1-0 away earlier on Saturday.

French forward Jérémy Menez, who this week complained about not playing enough since joining from Monaco in the close season, volleyed a Daniele De Rossi header into the far corner in the 69th minute for his first Serie A goal.

The visitors, who failed to put away a string of chances, had midfielder Matteo Brighi sent off for a second yellow card in the closing stages.

Roma's fifth consecutive win in all competitions lifts them to the middle of the standings ahead of tomorrow's decisive Champions League match at home to Bordeaux.

A last-gasp goal by Brazilian striker Amauri gave Juve a 2-1 win at Lecce last night while injury-ravaged Milan beat Catania 1-0 at the San Siro thanks to a Kaka goal.

Amauri nodded home in the 90th minute after Lecce's Daniele Cacia had cancelled out a fine 52nd-minute free-kick by Sebastian Giovinco.

Kaka's 65th-minute header from a corner was enough to end Milan's four-match winless run in all competitions.

Second-placed Juventus and third-placed Milan, who meet in Turin next weekend, both have 30 points from 15 games, six behind the defending champions Inter.

Results, table, page 10