Lautaro Martinez fires Inter to top of Serie A with comeback win over Empoli

 

Two goals from striker Lautaro Martinez helped Inter Milan secure a nervy 4-2 home win over Empoli on Friday as Simone Inzaghi’s side kept their Serie A title hopes alive and provisionally went top of the table.

The victory put defending champions Inter one point ahead of AC Milan, who can regain top spot with a win at ninth-placed Verona on Sunday in their bid to secure a first Scudetto since 2011. Empoli remain 14th on 37 points.

Inter struggled considerably in the first half against an Empoli side who have won just once in their last 20 games in all competitions and soon found themselves 2-0 down.

The visitors shocked Inter goalkeeper Samir Handanovic in the fifth minute when striker Andrea Pinamonti latched on to a brilliant low cross from Szymon Zurkowski to score his 13th goal of the season.

The 22-year-old, who recently netted against AC Milan, Roma and twice against Napoli, did not celebrate scoring on Friday as he is on loan from Inter.

Empoli scored again five minutes later through Zurkowski but the goal was disallowed by VAR due to an offside but they doubled their lead in the 28th minute.

Defender Riccardo Fiamozzi sent a long ball into the box and Kristjan Asllani rifled it past Handanovic, who rushed out to stop him, while Milan Skriniar failed to clear the ball off the line.

But Inzaghi’s side levelled just before break when Martinez found the right corner for his 18th league goal of the campaign, with the goal waking Inter up as they started to create more opportunities before half-time.

The Argentina international bagged his second of the evening in the 64th minute when he fired a rebound past the keeper to put the hosts ahead for the first time before Alexis Sanchez sealed all three points in injury time.

While Inter must wait to discover their fate in the title race, they will have a chance to win a trophy on Wednesday when they face Juventus in the Coppa Italia final.

Juventus’ Serie A title hopes ended by 2-1 loss at Genoa

Juventus’ slim chances of winning the Serie A title ended on Friday after Domenico Criscito’s stoppage-time penalty for relegation-threatened Genoa condemned Massimiliano Allegri’s side to a shock 2-1 defeat.

Juventus, who have already qualified for next season’s Champions League, remain fourth on 69 points and with two games left to play, they can no longer overtake Inter Milan (78) at the top of the standings.

Friday’s loss was only Juventus’ second defeat in their last 22 games. Juve barely threatened Genoa’s goal in the first half, sending only one shot on target in 45 minutes.

The visitors could have opened the scoring in the eighth minute bit forward Moise Kean’s header flew just over the crossbar.

Paulo Dybala had another great opportunity just before the break but his shot was saved by Salvatore Sirigu.

The Argentine international eventually found the back of the net three minutes into the second half after his low shot aimed at the right corner gave the visitors the long-awaited lead.

Dybala equalled the tally of former striker Roberto Baggio, with both having scored 115 times for the club.

Juve could have had a two-goal advantage by the 70th minute, but Dybala’s brilliant strike bounced off the far post.

But winger Albert Gudmundsson revived Genoa’s hopes of remaining in the top flight when he sent Nadiem Amiri’s pass inside the right post three minutes before the end of regular time.

Nine minutes later, defender Criscito belted in the spot-kick, giving goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny no chance.

The home fans exploded with joy, knowing that the three points boosted their side’s chances of preserving their Serie A status.

Genoa are 19th with 28 points, just one point away from the safety zone with two games remaining. They next travel to third-placed Napoli on May 15 before hosting Bologna the following week.

Juventus face Inter Milan in the Coppa Italia final on Wednesday.

adsense

Courtesy: Reuters

Facebook Comments