Inter title charge rolls on over Cagliari

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Rome, Feb 20 (AFP) Inter Milan''s title charge gainedmomentum as the champions squeezed past Cagliari 1-0 to closethe gap on leaders AC Milan.

Inter''s bitter city rivals can push their lead over theirneighbours back out to five points with victory today atChievo but the nerazzurri''s ninth win in 11 league gamesensured they kept up the pressure ahead of their ChampionsLeague clash with Bayern Munich on Wednesday.

Centre-back Andrea Ranocchia scored the only goal of thegame in contentious manner as he appeared to be offside. Thegame began at break-neck speed with Cagliari goalkeeperMichael Agazzi plunging to his right to save a vicious GoranPandev stike after just two minutes.

The visitors went straight up the other end and Intershot-stopper Julio Cesar tipped over an Andrea Lazzari volleyafter a clever chip forward from Alessandro Agostini.

From Andrea Cossu''s resulting corner Cesar tipped over aDaniele Conti header.

Inter took a controversial lead on seven minutes asSamuel Eto''o took advantage of Cagliari players arguing withthe referee to take a quick free-kick.

He played in Houssine Kharja behind the defence and hisdeflected cross was kept out by Agazzi''s leg only for the ballto rebound to the Morocco midfielder, who fired in a crossthat hit Ranocchia and a defender on it''s way in.

However, television replays showed Ranocchia had beenoffside as Kharja struck his shot.

Cagliari were straight back on the attack and Cesar tipeda skimming Davide Biondini shot around the post.

After that blistering first 10 minutes, the game settleda little, not in terms of pace but in terms of clear-cutchances.

On 21 minutes quick feet from Eto''o created a chanceafter a flowing Inter move but Agazzi got down well to stophis shot.

The Cameroon captain enjoyed the best of the rest of thehalf''s chances but sent a free-kick over the bar before he hadanother shot comfortably saved by the Sardinians'' goalkeeper.

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