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AC Milan back on top

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(REUTERS)   |   Rome   |   Published 09.12.02, 12:00 AM

Rome: AC Milan were back at the top of Serie A after beating AS Roma 1-0 Saturday, while Inter Milan fought back from three goals down to draw 3-3 at Lazio.

A hattrick from Argentina forward Claudio Lopez put Lazio 3-0 up inside 37 minutes, but Inter began their recovery thanks to an own-goal from Lazio defender Fernando Couto on 38 minutes.

Two superb second-half strikes from Turkey midfielder Emre Belozoglu completed the revival at a ground where Inter saw the title slip from their grasp on the final day of last season.

Filippo Inzaghi’s disputed goal in the 73rd minute was enough to give Milan victory over Roma in an uninspiring game, a result that moves Milan a point ahead of Lazio at the top.

Roma’s players claimed Inzaghi had handled the ball before scoring but referee Pierluigi Collina waved away their protests. Inter are in third place on 27 points, Juventus fourth with 26 points.

Lazio went into their game against Inter top of the league and were determined to confirm their title credentials as they pushed forward from the start and soon got their reward.

After 10 minutes Inter midfielder Matias Almeyda cut out a cross with his hand, the referee pointed to the penalty spot, and Lopez sent goalkeeper Francesco Toldo the wrong way.

Lazio doubled their lead on 31 minutes as midfielder Stefano Fiore passed across the area to Dejan Stankovic. He shot at goal but Lopez sneaked in before Toldo could reach the ball and angled it into the net.

Inter coach Hector Cuper brought on Uruguay forward Alvaro Recoba in place of Turkey midfielder Buruk Okan, but the errors in his defence continued.

In the 37th minute Lopez, completed his hattrick. Inter’s young defender Giovanni Pasquale made a hash of a high ball and Lopez crept in front of him to tap a shot past Toldo.

A minute later Inter pulled one back as a header from former Lazio striker Hernan Crespo hit the bar and rebounded onto the head of defender Fernando Couto before flying past goalkeeper Angelo Peruzzi into the net.

That piece of luck gave Inter hope after the break and with Recoba on as substitute they found their shape in attack and created plenty of chances to scramble back into the game as the home side continued to attack, leaving spaces behind them.

In the 67th minute Inter narrowed the deficit to one goal when Emre spotted Peruzzi off his line and lobbed him from 30 metres.

That goal swung the match Inter’s way. Nine minutes later Emre equalised with a spectacular drive from 25 metres that beat Peruzzi at his left-hand post.

In the 81st minute striker Christian Vieri came desperately close to giving Inter the lead as he headed Recoba’s cross fractionally wide of the post.

Scrappy affair

The hugely entertaining game at the Olympic Stadium was in marked contrast to the scrappy affair at the San Siro.

Roma were missing suspended playmaker Francesco Totti and neither side could find the fluency. In the 73rd minute Inzaghi struck after coming on as a substitute.

Their fourth defeat of the season sees Fabio Capello’s Roma drop to 10th in the table.

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