Mauro Icardi scored a hat-trick as Inter Milan kept pace with leaders Napoli with a 3-2 defeat of city rivals AC Milan in a fiery Serie A derby clash on Sunday.
Inter skipper Icardi sealed victory from the spot in the final minute in front of 80,000 spectators at the San Siro to complete his hat-trick after also scoring on 28 and 63 minutes.
Spanish forward Suso (36) and Giacomo Bonaventura (81) had twice put AC Milan back on level terms in the ‘Chinese’ derby between two clubs fuelled by multi-million dollar investments by their Asian owners.
With Juventus losing 1-0 to Roma on Saturday, Luciano Spalletti’s Inter are now alone in second place, within two points of Napoli who they face next weekend.
“Scoring three goals in a derby is something special,” said Icardi.
“The important thing is that Inter won. It’s too early to talk about a Scudetto challenge,” he continued.
“We are doing things the right way from pre-season and now we have to think about the next match against a great opponent like Napoli.
“It’s a special match for me, because they are the leaders and play the best football in Europe.”
Napoli maintained their perfect run of eight wins from eight games with Lorenzo Insigne scoring the only goal in a victory over Roma.
Juventus are third after Ciro Immobile’s second-half brace for Lazio condemned the reigning champions to a 2-1 defeat, their first at home in over two years.
Lazio are fourth equal on 19 points with Juventus with Roma four points adrift in fifth.
– Milan in freefall –
AC Milan dropped to tenth place after their fourth defeat piled the pressure on coach Vincenzo Montella.
“Looking at the table right now, everything might seem out of reach, but the season is very long and we can make up ground,” insisted Montella.
“This squad has quality, despite what some might say, and I thought even a draw would have been hard on us today considering all the chances created.
“I think a top four finish is absolutely possible.”
In a tense first half in the Derby della Madonnina, the first chance came after quarter of an hour when Antonio Candreva hit the crossbar.
Both Suso and a Joao Miranda header went wide, but Inter took the lead with Icardi picking up a Candreva cross on 28 minutes.
Patrick Cutrone came on after the break and lifted Milan who got back into the game thanks to a beautiful curling Suso effort.
But Icardi restored Inter’s advantage from an Ivan Perisic cross before Bonaventura slid in to make it 2-2 with Samir Handanovic unable to clear.
Ricardo Rodriguez brought down Danilo D’Ambrosio and 24-year-old Icardi converted to earn the praise of Spalletti.
“He (Icardi) has strength, dynamism, technique. He is an all-around player, who for his age knows how to shoulder responsibility,” said the Inter coach.
Earlier, Torino lost ground on the Serie A leaders after a 2-2 draw at Crotone as Atalanta also slipped up with a 3-1 defeat at Sampdoria.
Bryan Cristante opened with a 21st-minute goal in Genoa only for Giampiero Gasperini’s side to concede three in a 12-minute second half spree for Sampdoria.
Duvan Zapata got the equaliser on 56 minutes with Gianluca Caprari pulling the Genoa outfit ahead three minutes later and Karol Linetty sealing victory on 65 minutes.
Sampdoria move up to sixth place with the side from Bergamo now in 12th.
Torino settled for a point at Crotone with Lorenzo De Silvestri nodding in the equaliser two minutes into injury time.
Torino are now eighth, with Bologna moving just ahead with a 2-1 derby win over SPAL.
French striker Cyril Thereau scored in either half to get Fiorentina back to winning ways with a 2-1 success over his former club Udinese.
It was a third win of the season for Fiorentina who have suffered four defeats and move to 11th two places ahead of Udinese.
Source: Emmeline Moore| AFP