Milan: Inter Milan crushed Genoa 5-0 to reclaim second spot in Serie A ahead of next week’s Champions League blockbuster against Barcelona in the San Siro, but Roma needed a late Alessandro Florenzi volley to snatch a 1-1 draw at Fiorentina ahead of their midweek trip to CSKA Moscow.
Luciano Spalletti’s Inter notched up their seventh straight Serie A win to move three points behind champions Juventus, who host Cagliari later on Saturday, and equal on points with Napoli who eased past Empoli 5-1 on Friday.
Top scorer Mauro Icardi was rested with an eye towards Tuesday’s game in the San Siro after Inter lost 2-0 to Barcelona in the away leg. But the team shrugged off the absence of their skipper as Roberto Gagliardini scored in either half.
Portuguese midfielder Joao Mario capped an impressive individual performance by scoring the fourth goal and setting up three others, including for Matteo Politano and fit-again Radja Nianggolan. “We’re ready to play Barcelona,” said Spalletti. I think we learned the lesson of the first leg when, once behind, their quality and experience never allowed us to question the result.”
In Florence, Florenzi snatched a point for Roma five minutes from time to cancel out Jordan Veretout’s first-half penalty for the Tuscany side. In a clash between two teams fighting for European places Fiorentina, in sixth, stay just ahead of Roma on goal difference.
Roma had the best of the first half with a Federico Fazio header getting dangerously close and Edin Dzeko firing wide after 20 minutes. But Fiorentina took the lead after a penalty awarded for a light challenge by Roma goalkeeper Robin Olsen on Giovanni Simeone after half an hour. Eusebio Di Francesco’s side continued to push forward with Lorenzo Pellegrini hitting the woodwork and Dzeko again unlucky before Florenzi volleyed in the equaliser.
“We threw away two points,” said Florenzi. ‘We played better than we have in a long time. There was this penalty, which you could give or not give.”
Earlier Inter dominated Genoa on front of 70,000 spectators in the San Siro. Gagliardini fired in the first from close range after 14 minutes after a cross from Mario who then found a way through for Politano two minutes later. Gagliardini got his first Serie A brace just after the break.
The second came from a rebound after Genoa goalkeeper Andrei Radu had cleared an Ivan Perisic effort off the line. Mario then broke through to score in injury time drilling a low shot into the corner of the net before setting up late substitute Nainggolan, back from an ankle injury, who headed in the final action of the night.
“After a difficult start to the season, I needed a boost,” said Gagliardini. “I’ll try to continue like this. It is tough not playing often, but Inter are doing well and we are all happy about that.”
Spalletti praised Gagliardini’s attitude. “When I left Gagliardini out against Lazio, he was clearly disappointed. He is off the Champions League squad list too but he showed how much he wants to help the team. “He was rewarded for his professionalism.”