Roma take title to last day

Totti scores twice late on to give chasers 2-1 win over Cagliari as Inter edge Chievo.

    Totti salutes the Roma fans after his late strikes [AFP]

    Francesco Totti ended a tough week on a high as he hit two late goals to give Roma a 2-1 over Cagliari and take their title battle with Inter Milan down to the final day of the season.

    Leaders Inter did their job by beating Chievo 4-3 at home but the agonising win for second-placed Roma keeps them two points behind ahead of next Sunday's final round of matches.

    The battle for the fourth European Champions League qualifying place will also go to the wire after Sampdoria in fourth drew 1-1 at fifth-placed Palermo following a penalty apiece.

    Roma started with Totti despite the striker being widely condemned in the Italian media for kicking out at Inter Mario Balotelli and being sent off in Wednesday's Cup final defeat.

    Media reports also said Totti will not be included in Italy's preliminary World squad on Tuesday after the Cup final incident prompted national coach Marcello Lippi to reject the striker's offer to come out of international retirement.

    If the controversy was bothering Totti, he did not show it on Sunday.

    First he hit the post and the bar as Roma fans began to look desperate as news filtered through of Inter winning.

    Cagliari then scored midway through the second period against the run of play through Andrea Lazzari's free kick to further dampen the mood.

    But Totti went from fallen hero to Captain Marvel yet again when he quickly equalised and then converted a penalty seven minutes from time after Davide Biondini had handled.

    On for the treble

    Champions League finalists Inter, still on for a unprecedented Italian treble, had a bizarre start to their game with an own goal at each end within a minute of each other.

    Inter midfielder Thiago Motta was unlucky to divert in Michele Marcolini's free kick on 13 minutes before Andrea Mantovani deflected in Samuel Eto'o's strike straight away.

    Argentine midfielder Esteban Cambiasso then put Inter ahead with a well-taken goal from Maicon's cross on 34 minutes and compatriot Diego Milito netted a classy strike to score his 21st goal of the campaign in his first season with the champions.

    Mario Balotelli, so often at odds with his coach this term, made it four early in the second period before goals from Pablo Granoche and Sergio Pellissier sparked a nervy finish.

    The colourful San Siro crowd lost their verve as Totti netted the penalty but had earlier reserved a special chant for coach Jose Mourinho given constant media speculation he may leave because given he says he is unhappy in Italian football.

    Samp's draw will have allowed third-placed AC Milan a slight sigh of relief after Leonardo's side lost 1-0 at Genoa in a game played behind closed doors because of fears of fan violence.

    Faltering Milan are now assured of third spot and direct entry into next season's Champions League because of a better head-to-head record over Sampa.

    Atalanta joined Siena and Livorno in being relegated to Serie B after a 2-0 defeat at Napoli.

    The Bergamo-based side, known as the Queen of the Provinces for daring to lock horns with the big city teams, had put up a brave fight in recent weeks but will be back in the second tier next season for the first time since 2006.

    SOURCE: Reuters


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