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Rampant Inter inexorably marches toward to title glory

Updated: 2024-03-01 09:31
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Lautaro Martinez celebrates scoring Inter Milan's second goal in a 4-0 Serie A victory over Atalanta on Wednesday. [Photo/Agencies]

MILAN — Inter Milan continued its march toward the Serie A title with Wednesday's 4-0 thumping of Atalanta which extended its league lead to 12 points, while Victor Osimhen and Khvicha Kvaratskhelia netted five of Napoli's six goals at Sassuolo.

A convincing victory in its game in hand at the San Siro took Inter's winning streak in all competitions to 11 matches and left closest rival Juventus trailing in the distance.

Simone Inzaghi's side was missing key players Francesco Acerbi, Hakan Calhanoglu and Marcus Thuram but it made little difference against one of the division's form teams.

"We feel good. It's all part of a process which began a few years ago now," defender Alessandro Bastoni told DAZN.

"We have a group of players who have been together a good few years, and we're maturing."

Matteo Darmian got the ball rolling in the 26th minute with his first club goal of the season before Lautaro Martinez scored his 26th on the stroke of halftime with a sensational spin and left-footed hit.

Martinez was denied a brace when Marco Carnesecchi saved his penalty nine minutes after the break, but Federico Dimarco was on hand to ram home the rebound.

However, things might not have gone all their way had Charles De Ketelaere's early opener for Atalanta not been chalked off for an Aleksei Miranchuk handball following a long VAR check.

Atalanta boss Gian Piero Gasperini was visibly irritated by that decision and the awarding — for another handball by Hans Hateboer — of the spot-kick which led to Dimarco ending the match as a contest.

The heavy defeat ensured that Gasperini's team stays fifth, two points behind Bologna who has the advantage in the race for the Champions League.

But Inter dominated from the moment De Ketelaere's goal was disallowed and substitute Davide Frattesi completed the rout in the 71st minute with a header from Alexis Sanchez's freekick, as Inter put four past its opponent for the fourth straight league match.

"We've won little as it stands, let's hope that they come," said Inzaghi.

"We got one with the Super Cup in January but for now we have to keep going and think about Monday when we have Genoa."

Dynamic duo

Clinical Osimhen scored a hattrick before Kvaratskhelia bagged a brace of his own as Napoli came from behind to win its game in hand 6-1 and reignited hopes of European soccer.

After Amir Rrahmani leveled just before the half-hour mark, Osimhen rattled in his treble across 16 minutes either side of halftime to take his goal tally since returning from the Africa Cup of Nations to five in three matches in all competitions.

And Kvaratskhelia, who rolled Osimhen in for his simple third, belted in two fabulous strikes in the 51st and 75th minutes against a dreadful Sassuolo.

"We already knew that Osimhen was a great player, we missed him a lot. When you've got Osi in this kind of form everything is easier," Matteo Politano, who set up two of Osimhen's goals, told DAZN.

Napoli is still ninth but four points behind Roma, who sits sixth and in the Europa Conference League spot, after just its third league win of 2024.

Francesco Calzona's team is 29 points behind Inter, a sign of just how bad its league title defense has been.

And while Roma is in sight, eight points separate it from Bologna with a huge home fixture with fierce rival Juventus coming over the weekend.

"We really needed the win and we showed today that we're a good team," added Politano.

"We've given away a lot of points but if this is how we're going to approach games then there's still time for us to catch up."

Sassuolo, playing for the first time under Emiliano Bigica following Alessio Dionisi's sacking on Sunday, drops down into the relegation zone following a sixth defeat in seven matches.




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