Inter Outclass Roma To Return Top Of Serie A
Reigning Serie A champions Inter Milan reclaimed top spot on Saturday after beating Roma 3-1 at home to move one point clear of AC Milan.
Denzel Dumfries and Marcelo Brozovic scored first-half goals at San Siro before Lautaro Martinez headed in a third shortly after the break to earn Inter a fourth consecutive win.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan drilled in a late consolation as Inter capped off a successful week that began with a 3-0 victory Tuesday over Milan in the second leg of their Italian Cup semi-final.
“We were really worried about this match a few days after using up a lot of energy in the derby,” said Inter coach Simone Inzaghi.
“We played a great match against an opponent in good shape, strong physically and tactically. It’s an important signal.”
Milan could regain first place by winning at Lazio on Sunday, but Inter have a game in hand away to Bologna in midweek.
Third-placed Napoli on Sunday play an Empoli side who are winless in 16 matches since they defeated Luciano Spalletti’s title challengers 1-0 in Naples on December 12.
Jose Mourinho’s Roma arrived in Milan unbeaten in 12 games, a run which had given them an outside shot of qualifying for the Champions League.
They dampened Napoli’s Scudetto hopes at the start of the week by snatching a last-gasp equaliser in a 1-1 draw, but Inter ensured there was no such slip-up against the man who led them to the treble in 2010.
Moments after Roma defender Gianluca Mancini powered a header narrowly wide, Hakan Calhanoglu played Dumfries through and the Dutchman finished past Rui Patricio to put Inter in front.
Croatia international Brozovic then slammed into the top corner after skipping past several defenders inside the Roma box.
Martinez rose unmarked at a corner to nod in his team-leading 16th goal this term seven minutes into the second half.
Mkhitaryan rifled in from Eldor Shomurodov’s cutback five minutes from time but Roma remain five points back of Juventus in the race for fourth place.
Mourinho backs Inter for title
“They’re the strongest team in the league,” said Mourinho, whose team have lost all three meetings with Inter this season.
“Now that we no longer play against Inter, AC Milan, Juventus or Napoli, I can say that I would like Inter to win the Scudetto. But before the match I wanted to win.”
Atalanta ended a run of three consecutive losses earlier in the day by beating Venezia 3-1 as Colombia striker Duvan Zapata scored his first goal in four months.
Mario Pasalic broke the deadlock for Atalanta just before half-time in Venice and Zapata doubled the lead moments after the interval after being set up by compatriot Luis Muriel.
Zapata had not scored in the league since late November and missed the first three months of the year because of injury, coinciding with Atalanta’s downward spiral out of the top four.
“I was waiting for this goal since my return, but especially this win which we needed,” Zapata told DAZN after notching his 10th Serie A goal this term.
Muriel headed in a third for Atalanta shortly past the hour before Domen Crnigoj grabbed a consolation for Venezia, who dropped to the foot of the table after an eighth straight loss.
Atalanta stayed eighth but pulled to within two points of the European places. Venezia are level with Salernitana and Genoa, all of whom are six points from safety.