Inter Milan 2-0 Spezia: Gagliardini and Martinez keep pressure on Napoli
Inter Milan saw off Spezia 2-0 at San Siro to make it three Serie A wins in a row under Simone Inzaghi for the first time.
The in-form hosts defeated leaders Napoli and lowly Venezia in their previous two league outings and were good value for their latest victory at home to Spezia.
Roberto Gagliardini rounded off a nice team move to give Inzaghi's men a half-time lead and Lautaro Martinez, who created the opener, doubled his side's tally from the penalty spot to seal the victory.
Inter climb two points above Milan in second and within a point of Napoli, but those two teams are in action later on Wednesday against Genoa and Sassuolo respectively.
Spezia had lost each of their last four away games, conceding 14 goals in the process, but they held firm until unlikely scorer Gagliardini made a breakthrough after 36 minutes.
Danilo D'Ambrosio played the ball inside to Martinez, who flicked it into the path of Gagliardini to sweep away from Ivan Provedel into the bottom-left corner.
Samir Handanovic was required to keep out a Kelvin Amian header before half-time, though Inter gave themselves some breathing space just short of the hour mark.
Having already rattled the crossbar with a powerful drive, Martinez's next shot hit Jakub Kiwior on the arm and the forward made no mistake in converting the resulting spot-kick.
That made it goals in each of his last three league games for Martinez and, while neither he nor his team-mates could add to the scoring, Inter saw out a routine victory.
What does it mean? No stopping Nerazzurri
Inter are now unbeaten in 10 matches in all competitions since mid-October, winning each of the last four by an aggregate 9-2 scoreline.
That includes a return of 16 points from the last 18 in Serie A, a run that has lifted Inter into Scudetto contention following an inconsistent first couple of months under Inzaghi.
With their job successfully done, Inter will now be hoping that one or both of Milan and Napoli slip up in their midweek outings.
Rare goal for Roberto
Inter were fancied to score goals against the team with the worst defensive record in Serie A, but not many would have expected Gagliardini to get the ball rolling.
That was the holding midfielder's first goal in any competition since May, and just his second in more than a year, coming from one of Inter's 31 attempts – the most of any side in a Serie A game this season.
Perisic on the periphery
Ivan Perisic was the only current Inter player to have scored against Spezia for the Nerazzurri prior to this latest contest, but he was not as involved this time around.
The Croatia international, fielded in a left wing-back position, failed to test Provedel across the 90 minutes and lost possession 13 times – only two other Inter players did so more often.
Key Opta Stats:
- Thirty-one was the most shots Inter produced in a Serie A match since November 2019 (when they attempted 38 against Verona).
- Martinez has scored and delivered an assist in the same game for the first time in a Serie A match since last May, against Udinese.
- Despite being subbed off in the 73rd minute, Martinez attempted just one shot less than Spezia during this game (six v seven).
- Spezia have not scored in two consecutive games for their first time in Serie A.
- They are also the first side to have conceded at least 25 goals in their opening eight away games of a Serie A season since Padova in 1994-95 (26).
Inter will reunite with former boss Jose Mourinho on Saturday when they travel to Roma, while Spezia are at home to Sassuolo the following day.