MILAN - Inter Milan retained their Serie A title with three games to spare after second-placed AC Milan put in a weak performance to lose 2-1 at Udinese on Saturday. Inter's triumph, in former Chelsea coach Jose Mourinho's first season in charge, is their fourth straight scudetto and their 17th overall. Inter, who will celebrate their success in Sunday's home match with Siena, hold a seven-point lead with Milan only having two games left. Fans quickly congregated in Milan's central square, Piazza Duomo, to wave flags and celebrate the title while television pictures showed Inter players dancing at their team retreat. Mourinho has now won titles with Porto, Chelsea and Inter. "I'm a bit angry because the team should already be in bed but they have decided to take the bus and go to Milan. But I understand their desire to celebrate," he joked to Inter's website. "For my part I still don't feel a symbol of Inter. There's still some work to do on this. We'll try and do it next year." Milan's defeat gave Inter president Massimo Moratti an extra reason to party on his 64th birthday. "It's the first time I've celebrated a birthday by winning a scudetto. They did very well to give me this present," he said. "We have won the title with great merit. From a certain point of view it was never really in doubt. Mourinho had already won in England, and now he's done well here with us, the only foreign coach in Italy. "He did well to gain experience first and then lead the team to victory," added Moratti, who also said he hoped top striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic would decide to stay at the club. Swede Ibrahimovic seemed to give him his answer. "We will win everything next year," he told the website. MALDINI MISTAKES Milan's Paolo Maldini, who retires at the end of the season, had a night to forget on his 900th appearance for the Rossoneri. The 40-year-old pulled down Antonio Floro Flores on 31 minutes to allow Gaetano D'Agostino to fire home a penalty and then failed to clear a corner before Cristian Zapata slammed the ball in at the far post early in the second half. Massimo Ambrosini headed home in stoppage time for Milan, who are not yet assured of an automatic Champions League spot and have question marks hanging over the future of coach Carlo Ancelotti -- continually linked in the media with Chelsea. Udinese's win also put them three points behind sixth-placed AS Roma, who beat Catania 4-3 earlier, in the race for the final Europa League berth. Inter have now joined Milan on 17 Italian titles with Juventus leading the way on 27. The first championship in Inter's run of four was given to them in a court room after Juve were stripped of the 2006 title in Italy's match-fixing scandal. Inter's second scudetto was a stroll given Juve were in Serie B and Milan had points deducted from the affair while last term Juve were rebuilding in their first season back in the top flight, meaning Inter again had less competition. Coach Roberto Mancini was sacked at the end of the campaign after falling out with Moratti but Portuguese Mourinho, who won two Premier League titles with Chelsea, has continued where the Italian left off. Their style of play was not always pretty but their sheer physical power and the goals of Ibrahimovic meant they have lost just three league matches this term.
16 May 2009
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