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Ancelotti hopeful despite loss

UNDER pressure AC Milan coach Carlo Ancelotti will not throw in the towel on the Serie A title despite trailing leaders Inter Milan by 11 points after Sunday's 1-2 derby defeat.

Milan has not won the scudetto since 2004 and despite European Cup triumphs in 2003 and 2007, Ancelotti's position is looking increasingly precarious. The Rossoneri only finished fifth last term and his cautious tactics this season has been criticized by fans and the media.

"The championship is not over. Inter have the chance to maintain their advantage but we must resist," he told reporters. "It is difficult. It is important to keep ourselves in the top three and then we will see."

Ancelotti, Serie A's longest serving coach since been appointed in 2001, said this week he would not leave for Chelsea in June but media reports have speculated he could be sacked by Milan in any case if he fails to win the title.

"I have a contract until 2010, after that we will see what to do," he said.

Inter's sheer power was the key to its victory and it ripped holes in Milan's shaky defence, which included 40-year-old Paolo Maldini in his last derby before retiring at the end of the season. However, Adriano did use an arm for Inter's opener before Dejan Stankovic found space in the box to fire home the second.

"I don't know if it was voluntary or not but the foul by Adriano was crucial," Ancelotti said. "On the second goal it was clearly a mistake on our part."

Inter coach Jose Mourinho, whose side is nine clear of second-placed Juventus and odds-on for a fourth straight scudetto, said the victory was deserved.

"It was an important win against a great side who put us under huge pressure at the end, which makes the win more special," he told a news conference before leaving without fielding questions. "We wasted lots of chances to make it more secure."

Juventus hit the woodwork three times against Sampdoria but had to be content with a 1-1 draw.

Giampaolo Pazzini put Sampdoria ahead on 10 minutes after Antonio Cassano, constantly linked with a move to Juventus, sent his strike partner clear with a superb through ball.

Amauri's brave diving header midway through the second half levelled the scores after a teasing cross from substitute Sebastian Giovinco. Cassano's deflected cross struck the post for Sampdoria.

Former Juventus striker Adrian Mutu completed a hat-trick with the last kick to send Fiorentina up to fourth with a 3-3 draw at Genoa, which had led 3-0 but played with 10 men for an hour.


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