Milan take giant step towards title

ROME - AC Milan took a giant step towards their first Serie A title in seven years on Saturday when a late Robinho strike gave the Rossoneri a 1-0 win at Brescia and an eight-point lead with four games to go.

While Milan marched on, champions and city rivals Inter Milan beat Lazio 2-1 to move up to second place, ahead of Napoli who lost by the same score at Palermo, while Bari were relegated.

AS Roma beat Chievo Verona 1-0 to consolidate sixth place and close in on Udinese, three points ahead, and fourth-placed Lazio.

Sent clean through by Antonio Cassano, Robinho finished coolly eight minutes from time to give Milan a hard-earned win over relegation-threatened Brescia, who are now five points from safety.

Cassano should have given Milan the lead four minutes before the break when he somehow nodded over from eight metres after being picked out by Kevin-Prince Boateng's cross.

He missed another gilt-edged chance in the second half, heading badly wide after brilliant skill from Clarence Seedorf.

Milan had goalkeeper Christian Abbiati to thank for late saves from Alessandro Diamanti, whose swerving free-kick struck the bar with 10 minutes to go.

"We should have finished them off in the first half," Milan coach Massimiliano Allegri told Sky Italia. "There's nothing to celebrate yet, but we'll have a nice Easter."

INTER WIN

At the San Siro, Inter came back from a goal and a man down to defeat Lazio.

The Nerazzurri made a lacklustre start and were reduced to 10 men after 22 minutes when Julio Cesar was sent off for bringing down Mauro Zarate, who scored from the resultant penalty.

Wesley Sneijder then equalised with a free-kick five minutes before half-time and Samuel Eto'o scored the winner, his 20th goal of the season, on 53 minutes after rounding goalkeeper Fernando Muslera.

A dispirited Lazio also ended the match with 10 men after skipper Stefano Mauri was sent off on 66 minutes.

"I'm an optimist and I still think it (the title race) is open," Inter coach Leonardo told Italy's Sky channel before the Milan result.

"We had one bad week in four months which can happen. It was an amazing win and showed just how committed this squad is."

Edinson Cavani gave Napoli a second-minute lead with a penalty, his 26th goal of the campaign, against his former club but Palermo hit back through Federico Balzaretti on 38 minutes.

Home coach Delio Rossi was sent from the dugout as tempers flared but Cesare Bovo's penalty on the stroke of half-time after Giulio Migliaccio had been felled in the box turned out to be the winner for Palermo, who stayed eighth.

Napoli slipped to third, nine points behind Milan.

"The boys were a bit tense," said Napoli coach Walter Mazzarri. "We're not used to being so high up the table and some players are able to handle the pressure better than others."

Fifth-placed Udinese failed to take advantage of Lazio's loss, losing 2-0 at home to Parma with an Amauri double g