Goals from Marcelo Brozovic, Lautaro Martinez and Alexis Sanchez gave Inter Milan a one-point advantage at the top of Serie A as they earned a 3-1 victory against Spezia Calcio at the Stadio Alberto Picco.
Going into the match, Inter were two points behind rivals AC Milan with a game in hand. The visitors knew that a win was needed if they wanted any chance of defending their Scudetto.
Spezia made it difficult for Inter, pressing well, and limiting their chances. In fact, the home side had the first big chance of the match with Emmanuel Gyasi finding himself through on goal.
However, Samir Handanovic rushed out, made himself big, and prevented the shot.
After a few shots attempted from range via Hakan Calhanoglu, they managed to find the back of the net through a volley from Marcelo Brozovic.
A lengthy VAR check threatened to chalk off the goal, as Danilo D’Ambrosio, who initially brought down the ball for Brozovic to score, looked to be offside in the build up. However, Giulio Maggiore kept him on and the goal, which was Brozovic’s first of the season, was allowed to stand.
The second half started quickly, with substitute Kevin Agudelo capitalizing off of an Alessandro Bastoni mistake. He got through on goal, but his shot was quickly saved.
Spezia had a few more chances but were unable to find the back of the net, something they’d regret as in the 73rd minute, Ivan Perisic’s cross into the box allowed for Martinez to finish the game off with an outside of the boot finish
It looked like Inter were set to cruise to the three points, but an 88th-minute goal from captain Giulio Maggiore saw Spezia pull one back with a great strike from outside of the box.
The goal certainly put things on edge as Spezia continued to push for a late minute equaliser, but it was Alexis Sanchez who had the final say. Despite being brought down by Dimitris Nikolaou, he got straight back up, received the ball from Martinez, and scored Inter’s third, sealing the win.
Spezia remain in 15th despite the loss, and will now look forward to their match against Torino. They’ll need to pick up a few more points this season if they want to ensure that they don’t get dragged into a relegation battle.
The win for Inter means that they now watch on as Milan take on Genoa, in the hopes that their rivals will drop points. They’ll face AC Milan in the Coppa Italia semi-final next week before hosting Jose Mourinho’s AS Roma in the league.
TALKING POINT: INTER GET THE JOB DONE AND GO TOP
That late Spezia goal could have meant trouble, but Inter dug deep and managed to get the three points. Back in March, the side were in extremely poor form, to the point where it looked like the title had been lost. However, Simone Inzaghi’s side has greatly improved since the international break, and with AC Milan drawing their last two matches, the title is now firmly in Inter’s hands.
PLAYER OF THE MATCH: IVAN PERISIC
He may not have scored, but Persic was key to most of Inter’s attacks against Spezia. He dominated the left side of the pitch, and was constantly attempting to set up his teammates. With four key passes, and seven crosses, his efforts were rewarded with an assist for Inter’s second goal of the night.
SPEZIA: Provedel 6, Amian 6, Erlic 6, Nikolaou 6, Reca 6, Maggiore 7, Kiwior 6, Gyasi 7, Kovalenko 6, Bastoni 6, Manaj 7… Subs: Ferrer 6, Agudelo 6, Antiste 5, Verde 5, Nzola 5.
INTER: Handanovic 6, D’Ambrosio 6, Skriniar 7, Bastoni 7, Dumfries 7, Barella 8, Brozovic 7, Calhanoglu 7, Perisic 8, Dzeko 6, Correa 6… Subs: De Vrij 6, Vidal 6, Darmian 6, Sanchez 7, Martinez 8.
31’ – GOAL! SPEZIA 0-1 INTER: Inter take the lead at the half hour mark through a Brozovic volley that was nodded down to him by D’Ambrosio. The goal is Brozovic’s first goal of the season, and as it stands, they are now top of Serie A.
73’ – GOAL! SPEZIA 0-2 INTER: Inter double their lead! Martinez with an outside of the boot finish from a Perisic cross. Inter have squandered a few chances, but they finally have their second.
88’ – GOAL! SPEZIA 1-2 INTER: Spezia pull one back! Maggiore puts a dent in Inters plans with a fantastic finish! Two mins to go plus stoppage time. Can they do it?
90+4’ – GOAL! SPEZIA 1-3 INTER: ALEXIS SANCHEZ SEALS IT FOR INTER! His fourth goal of the season ensures that his side remains top of the league with a game in hand.