ROME: Inter Milan’s championship challenge gained momentum yesterday after they chalked up their fifth Serie A win on the trot with a scrappy 2-1 victory over Perugia to move to within five points of leaders AC Milan.
Italy international Christian Vieri netted both Inter goals before Giovanni Tedesco’s late consolation goal ensured a few nail-biting moments in the closing stages for Alberto Zaccheroni’s men.
Under Zaccheroni, who took over from Hector Cuper in October, Inter have rediscovered their confidence which was missing from many of their early performances this season.
And their new found belief spurred them on to another three points and left Perugia still looking for their first win of the campaign.
Inter, who face a do-or-die Champions League match away to Dinamo Kiev in the Ukraine on Wednesday where they must win to stand any chance of making it through to the last 16, took the lead in the 25th minute at the San Siro.
Turkish midfielder Emre Belozoglu burst into the box and fed Javier Zanetti, who in turn teed up Vieri to fire a low left foot shot which crept in off the far post off the outstretched hand of Michele Tardioli.
Inter pounded Perugia’s goal in the second-half but had to wait until the 80th minute before doubling their advantage.
The visitors were caught short at the back as they poured forward in search of an equaliser, and Julio Cruz took full advantage of the extra space, threading an inch-perfect pass through to Vieri who slotted the ball past Tardioli.
Tedesco took advantage of some poor Inter defending to reduce the deficit two minutes from time and Perugia nearly left with a point when Massimo Margiotta’s header flew narrowly over the crossbar.
Parma leapt up to fifth with a 2-1 win at Lecce where Alberto Gilardino grabbed both goals for the visitors.
Bologna moved out of the relegation zone with a 3-2 home win over bottom club Ancona, while Udinese moved up to the safety of midtable thanks to Carsten Jancker’s late winner in a 1-0 victory over Reggina.
Sampdoria rose to seventh with a 2-1 home win over Siena and Modena were held to a 1-1 draw at home to Brescia.
On Saturday AC Milan took sole possession of first place in Serie A after riding their luck in a 1-0 win at struggling Empoli.
Brazilian midfielder Kaka saved Milan’s blushes by scoring the winner nine minutes from time with a 30-yard screamer.
Victory for Milan extended their unbeaten run and threw down the gauntlet to title rivals Roma, who can draw level with the European champions should they win away to Chievo in yesterday’s late match.
Milan have 30 points from 12 matches played, three more than Roma who have a game in hand.
Elsewhere on Saturday, reigning champions Juventus crashed to their second consecutive league defeat, losing 2-0 at Lazio.
Bernardo Corradi broke the deadlock in the 21st minute at the Olympic Stadium before setting up Stefano Fiore for Lazio’s second goal in first-half stoppage time.
Defeat left Juventus in third, four points off the pace. – AFP