Inter move third to put pressure on Roman rivals
Mauro Icardi scored his 25th goal of the Serie A campaign to help Inter Milan ease past Cagliari 4-0 to move third in Serie A on Tuesday, putting the pressure on Roman rivals Lazio and Roma in the battle for Champions League places.
Inter had not scored or won in their last three games but Joao Cancelo broke the drought after just three minutes off a free kick in the San Siro.
Inter’s top scorer Icardi got the second after the break with Marcelo Brozovic returning from suspension to grab the third on the hour with Ivan Perisic rounding off the rout in the final minute.
“After securing the result, the ball started to move at the right tempo, whereas before we didn’t have the right rhythm,” said coach Luciano Spalletti.
“All in all we had a good game, I liked the team.”
It was a dominant display by the former European giants who have no option but to win as they target a Champions League return for the first time since 2012.
Spalletti’s side move back up to third position with 63 points from 33 games before Roma and Lazio, both on 61 points, play Genoa and Fiorentina respectively on Wednesday.
French striker Yann Karamoh missed two golden chances in front of goal with the hosts losing midfielder Roberto Gagliardini who was stretchered off in the first half with a suspected hamstring problem.
Cancelo left Cagliari’s Alessio Cragno with no chance in goal early but Karamoh could have got the second after quarter of an hour in Milan when captain Icardi set him up with only the goalkeeper to beat.
Karamoh, 19, also missed a second chance to finish off a Danilo D’Ambrosio cross but rattled the crossbar.
Leandro Castan blocked a close range Icardi effort before the break, with Karamoh looking to have finally scored but was ruled offside.
Icardi failed to finish off a Perisic ball on front of goal before the half-time whistle but made no mistake after the break slotting in off a Rafinha cross to slot in his 25th goal of the Serie A campaign — a personal record for the Argentine.
It surpassed the 24 he scored last year to take his career total to 106 Serie A goals in 185 appearances.
Ten minutes later Perisic sent the ball down the middle for Icardi, who was blocked by Cagliari centre-back Marco Andreolli, with the ball falling to the feet of Brozovic, who curled in and then set up Perisic for the fourth.
“I’m happy for the 25 goals, although I guess he’s not happy, because he could have capitalised more,” said Spalletti of Icardi.
“He made a lot of movement, he helped the team, but from the point of view of scoring I think he’s not happy, I know he would like to bring everything home.”
Cagliari are struggling 14th just five points above the relegation zone.
Champions Juventus travel to Crotone on Wednesday with Napoli’s dwindling Serie A title hopes are hanging on a win at home against Udinese who have lost their last nine games.
Napoli are six points behind Juventus before this weekend’s top-of-the-table clash in Turin.
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