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Relegation-Battling Sassuolo Stun Champions Inter

Armand Lauriente's rasping first-time strike in the 20th minute gave his team their first win in seven matches and inflicted a first league defeat on Inter since Sassuolo won at the San Siro in late September.


Sassuolo
Sassuolo players celebrating their win against Inter Milan on May 4th, 2024. Photo: X@SerieA

 

Sassuolo stunned newly-crowned Italian champions Inter Milan for the second time this season on Saturday with a 1-0 win which kept alive their hopes of staying in Serie A.

Armand Lauriente’s rasping first-time strike in the 20th minute gave his team their first win in seven matches and inflicted a first league defeat on Inter since Sassuolo won at the San Siro in late September.

“We didn’t approach the game well, but after their goal we improved. We probably deserved to be level at half-time,” said Inter coach Simone Inzaghi to Sky Sport.

“But even though we tried to change things we created little in the second half. We should have done more.”

Davide Ballardini’s side are still second from bottom, three points from safety, and have a big task on their hands if they are to stay in Serie A with three matches remaining in their campaign.

Udinese are level on 29 points with Sassuolo and sit just inside the drop zone ahead of their home fixture with Napoli on Monday night.

Two points above that pair are Empoli and Frosinone, who face off on Sunday afternoon, and also Verona who host Fiorentina.

Saturday’s win was Sassuolo’s 10th over Inter since first being promoted to Serie A in 2013, more than the traditional tiny club have had against any other top division team.

They beat a largely second-string Inter who won their 20th league title last month and are in cruise control until the end of a triumphant campaign.

Inter were denied a leveller on the stroke of half-time when Lautaro Martinez’s close-range finish was ruled out for offside but offered little otherwise.

Martinez is Serie A’s leading scorer but has been stuck on 23 league goals since the end of February, while Inter failed to score in a league match for the first time this season.

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Earlier Lazio’s bid to reach the Champions League was damaged by Milan Djuric’s stoppage time leveller in an entertaining 2-2 draw at Monza.

Djuric thumped home the second of two superb headers in the 92nd minute, his eighth league goal of the season for mid-table Monza which left Lazio in seventh place.

A win would have pushed Lazio a single point behind local rivals Roma, who are in the fifth and final Champions League spot and host Juventus on Sunday night.

Instead fans were left frustrated at their team being pegged back twice after going ahead in each half through Ciro Immobile and Matias Vecino.

Away supporters got into a heated exchange with Lazio’s players after the match as a post-match lecture from visiting ultras led to defender Adam Marusic losing his temper with one fan and having to be calmed down by captain Immobile.

Lazio have had a troubled season with previous coach Maurizio Sarri stepping down in March and star midfielder Luis Alberto wanting to leave despite signing a contract extension until 2027 in October.

AFP