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MILAN, Italy -- Inter Milan strengthened their position at the top of Serie A when their 10 men hung on for a thrilling 4-3 victory over city rivals AC Milan at the San Siro.
Marco Materazzi headed them into a 4-1 lead in the 68th minute but was promptly sent off, receiving a second yellow card for his over-exuberant celebrations.
The home side staged a pulsating fightback which extended their local rivals all the way.
Inter moved three points clear of Palermo, who visit Fiorentina on Sunday.
Inter took the lead in the 17th minute when Crespo, playing against his former club, met a Stankovic free kick with a powerful header.
Stankovic made it 2-0 in spectacular fashion, beating Dida with a superb shot from long range that curled over the Brazilian keeper and into the top corner.
Inter went close to a third before the interval when Dida's diving save kept out a thunderous free kick from Ibrahimovic.
Milan coach Carlo Ancelotti made three substitutions at the interval, bringing on captain Paolo Maldini, Gilardino and Brazilian Ricardo Oliveira.
But within two minutes Inter had made it 3-0, Stankovic bursting through unchallenged before slipping the ball into the path of Ibrahimovic.
Milan pulled one back when a deflected shot from Dutch midfielder Seedorf fooled Inter's Brazilian keeper Julio Cesar.
Suddenly the Milan fans, the majority of the 79,000 in the San Siro stadium the two clubs share, came alive and roared their side forward.
Gilardino had a header correctly ruled out for offside before Materazzi's header seemed to put the game beyond Milan.
But he pulled his jersey over his head as he celebrated enthusiastically and was shown a second yellow card.
Against 10 men Milan surged forward, Gilardino nodding in a Cafu cross to make it 4-2. Seedorf twice forced Julio Cesar into fine saves before Kaka added a third goal in injury time.
"It was a brilliant game," said Inter coach Roberto Mancini.
"Until the sending off of Materazzi we had dominated the match and then, down to ten men and with some tired players that I couldn't substitute, we struggled.
"If we had stayed with 11 players on the field I think we would have scored even more," added the Inter coach.
Materazzi was sent off after taking off his shirt to celebrate his goal and Mancini was critical of the rule used by the referee.
"I'm not having a go at the referee, who applied a rule of the game, but that rule is pathetic, absurd and ruins games. Materazzi did nothing wrong," said Mancini.
The result leaves Milan, who began the season with a minus eight point penalty imposed by a sports tribunal, 14 points behind their city rivals but coach Carlo Ancelotti said there was no question of throwing in the towel.
"We will take it week by week, there is a long way to go yet and the important thing is to have the desire and the strength to produce a great season," said the Milan coach.
"We were applauded off the field by our fans and that shows they understood we gave our all as we tried to come back
A 66th-minute goal at Udinese by defender Matteo Ferrari helped Roma end a run of three games without a win.
Ferrari drove the ball home from close range after the defense failed to clear a header from Cristian Chivu.
Four minutes later Udinese had midfielder Sulley Muntari sent off.
Matchwinner Materazzi was dismissed for his over exuberant goal celebrations.