Inter Milan may have won its third successive Serie A title Sunday, but for many of its fans this was the first one to truly count. Two years ago, it was awarded the scudetto by default after Juventus was stripped of its title in the wake of the match-fixing scandal. Last year Inter won while Juve was in the second division, and AC Milan were handicapped by an eight-point deduction. This season was a level playing field, but Inter pulled it off again, albeit thanks to two late goals from an unexpected source in the season's final hour.
"It's better to win it like this, in the final round," claimed midfielder Dejan Stankovic, while captain Javier Zanetti understated that "this year was more of a struggle." The title-clinching strikes came from forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic, riskily brought off the bench with 40 minutes left after six weeks out injured, with Inter needing three points, and with the score at 0-0. The Swede then scored two memorable goals that condemned opponents Parma to relegation, and rivals Roma to runners-up.
After coasting the first half of the season, Inter struggled on the home stretch, and coach Roberto Mancini announced that he would resign at the end of the season after the team were eliminated from the Champions League by Liverpool. But he changed his mind a few days later after talks with team owner Massimo Moratti. That, however, hasn't quelled all the rumors that he will be replaced by former Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho.