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Inter Fight Back to Equal Consecutive Wins Record
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Italian league leaders Inter Milan equalled the Serie A record of 11 consecutive wins after fighting back from a goal down to beat Atalanta 2-1 on Saturday.

A hard-fought victory at the San Siro in the final round of games before the winter break saw Inter match Roma's winning streak of last season and maintain their seven-point cushion at the top of the table.

Cristiano Doni gave Atalanta a deserved half-time lead before Adriano equalised with his first goal in an Inter shirt for nine months.

Atalanta defender Simone Loria headed into his own net 15 minutes from time to gift Roberto Mancini's side three crucial points.

Mancini saluted his side, which was missing several key players because of injuries and suspensions, for their second half recovery.

"We knew it was going to be a very tough match and Atalanta played very well in the first half," he said.

"But after the break we came out fighting to get the three points."

Mancini said he hoped Adriano's confidence would be restored after the Brazil international ended his lengthy goal drought.

"The goal was very important for him and let's hope he can start the new year by playing the way that we know he can," he said.

Inter have 48 points from their 18 matches played, seven more than Roma who won 2-0 at home to Cagliari.

Rodrigo Taddei's spectacular overhead kick set the 2001 champions on their way before his fellow Brazilian Mancini found the net with a crisp shot.

Palermo remain third but dropped further off the pace after being held 1-1 at Siena, while Gionatha Spinesi scored a hat-trick as Catania beat Sampdoria 4-2, propelling the Sicilian dark horses up to fourth place.

Lazio moved up to fifth after coming back from a goal down to beat Parma 3-1. The win was even more remarkable given the fact that Lazio had defender Sebastiano Seviglia sent off in the 15th minute.

AC Milan, who were forced to start on minus eight points for their part in the Italian match-fixing scandal, continued their push for a Champions League place with a comfortable 3-0 win at Udinese.

Kaka opened the scoring with a penalty before Alberto Gilardino and Ricardo Oliveira ended Udinese's resistance.

Fiorentina hammered Messina 4-0 and Reggina thrashed Empoli 4-1, while Livorno drew 1-1 at home to Torino. Bottom club Ascoli defeated fellow strugglers Chievo 3-0 for their first win of the season.

Inter, who finished third last season but were awarded the title after Juventus and AC Milan were found guilty of match-fixing, fell behind in the 16th minute against a spirited Atalanta.

Luca Ariatti slipped a clever ball inbetween two Inter defenders for Doni to run onto, and he drilled a right-footed shot into the top corner from the edge of the 18-yard box for his seventh goal of the season.

(China Daily December 25, 2006)

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