Ibra's penalty sinks Inter, puts AC Milan back at top

Ibra's penalty sinks Inter, puts AC Milan back at top

Zlatan Ibrahimovic converted a spot kick late Sunday to help AC Milan regain the lead in the Serie A in a 1-0 win over champions Inter Milan, dpa reported.

Milan were in control through most of the game and held their ground in the last 30 minutes despite the dismissal of Ignazio Abate, who received a second booking as he clashed off the ball with Goran Pandev.

Inter veteran Marco Materazzi filled in defence for Walter Samuel and had his say in the Devils' winner when he floored Ibrahimovic as he entered the box after a run from the midfield line.

The ex-Inter Swede took the fifth-minute penalty and slammed it to the right of Luca Castellazzi under the curve occupied by his former fans.

Castellazzi was one of the reserves fielded by Rafael Benitez in a defence missing Brazilian Douglas Maicon and his compatriot custodian Julio Cesar.

Maicon's replacement Ramiro Cordoba was effective on 13 minutes as he stopped Mathieu Flamini's effort to finish off a feed from Ibra, who then came close with a swerving volley.

Benitez also had to replace the limping Nigerian Joel Obi with Brazilian Coutinho, who brought speed to Inter's manoeuvre without however troubling the Devils' defence.

After the break, Inter Dutchman Wesley Sneijder fired a fast free kick to force Christian Abbiati's first save shortly before the Devils went one man down.

Dutch veteran Clarence Seedorf fired a last wide shot before the Devils switched to purely defensive tactics and retained their valuable lead.

Earlier Sunday, Lazio beat Napoli 2-0 with goals from Mauro Zarate and Sergio Floccari to resume winning after two defeats and remain second, one point behind Milan.

"I have a very competitive squad. I do not know if we will stay at the top. We will see," Lazio coach Edy Reja said. "For sure we will fight until the end for the top positions."

Napoli, which Reja coached until 2009, crashed after three straight wins and remained third, five points from the top.

Palermo beat Catania 3-1 earlier Sunday to win a fast-paced Sicily derby thanks to a hat-trick from Argentine talent Javier Pastore.

In other Sunday afternoon action, Antonio Di Natale scored a hat- trick as Udinese hammered Lecce 4-0, Bologna edged Brescia 1-0, and Parma won 1-0 at bottom side Bari, who had Andrea Masiello dismissed with 15 minutes left.

Genoa edged hosts Cagliari 1-0, and Sampdoria drew 0-0 at home to Chievo and finished the game with 10 men, having used their three substitutions when Marco Padalino hurt his ankle.

Juventus and Roma drew 1-1 late Saturday in an archrival tie that left Juve next to Inter, with Roma trailing one point adrift.

On Saturday, Fiorentina edged newcomers Cesena 1-0 to improve their lowly standing.

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