Serie A: Argentine striker Mauro Icardi's brace takes Inter Milan into second place after Lazio thumping
Inter Milan captain Mauro Icardi scored twice as his team beat Lazio by a scoreline of 3-0 to go second in the Serie A table, behind league leaders Juventus.
Milan: Mauro Icardi scored in either half as Inter Milan beat Lazio 3-0 under the rain in Rome on Monday to move ahead of Napoli and into second place behind Juventus in Serie A.
Inter skipper Icardi tapped in the opener after 28 minutes with Marcelo Brozovic adding a second before the break. The Argentine snatched the third after 70 minutes in the Stadio Olimpico, as Inter with 22 points from 10 games overtook Napoli on goal difference.
Carlo Ancelotti's Napoli were held 1-1 by Roma on Sunday. Inter and Napoli are both six points behind Juventus who beat Empoli 2-1 on Saturday thanks to a Cristiano Ronaldo double.
"We're on the right track," said Icardi after his side's sixth straight league win. It was also his sixth league goal this season.
"I'm going through a good period of form along with Inter. We're playing well, apart from the game with Barcelona (2-0 Champions League defeat), and want to do even better," said Icardi, adding, "we're not the anti-Juventus, as we’re a few steps away to reach what they've done in recent years, but we are happy with what we are doing."
Luciano Spalletti's side controlled the game which had been in doubt all afternoon because of strong winds and rain in Rome. With just one point separating the two sides the match was also an important step in the race for Champions League places next season.
Inter had snatched the final Champions League spot from Lazio on the last day of last season, condemning Simone Inzaghi's side to the Europa League. Under sudden bursts of torrential rain, the game sprung to life with Icardi's opener after 28 minutes. Perisic crossed for Matias Vecino, who flicked on to Icardi to finish off.
Shortly afterwards the rain began to bucket down with Lazio's Croatian midfielder Milan Badelj going off injured to be replaced by Danilo Cataldi.
But Inter continued their charge with Brozovic getting the second after 41 minutes, firing into the bottom left corner. The visitors seemed more at ease on the waterlogged pitch continuing to dictate play.
Lazio did not give up with Samir Handanovic pushing an Adam Marusic effort over the bar. But they were only sporadic signs of a fightback with Icardi drilling in the third with ease from a distance.
Lazio remain fourth but have not lost to all their leading rivals — Juventus, Napoli, Roma and now Inter. "I admit we deserved to lose this evening," said coach Inzaghi.
"Against the big teams Lazio lack the conviction we have in other matches. These teams are built to win titles. Now we want to get back on track against SPAL," he added.
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Lukaku swiftly developed a scintillating partnership with Lautaro Martínez and their goals helped Inter sustain a title challenge before eventually finishing second in Serie A, a point behind Juventus.
All games from the quarter-finals onwards in this season's Europa League will be played behind closed doors as one-off ties across four venues - Cologne, Duisburg, Dusseldorf and Gelsenkirchen - following a five-month interruption.
Europa League: Lucas Ocampos' late goal against Wolves sends Sevilla to semis; Shakhtar Donetsk thump Basel
Five-time competition winners Sevilla face Manchester United in Cologne on Sunday, while Shakhtar Donetsk take on Inter Milan on Monday in another intriguing tie.