Icardi double helps Inter thwart Viola
CAPTAIN Mauro Icardi hit a brace as Inter Milan held on amid a stirring Fiorentina fightback to secure a precious 4-2 Serie A win at the San Siro yesterday.
Inter started life under new coach Stefano Pioli with a credible 2-2 draw with city rivals AC Milan last week.
And, despite a few shaky moments yesterday, the former Lazio handler won more plaudits for another solid display that closed the gap on leaders Juventus to 12 points.
Inter, rocked 4-1 at home by Fiorentina in the corresponding fixture last season, were 3-0 up after a series of defensive errors allowed Marcelo Brozovic, Antonio Candreva and Icardi to beat Ciprian Tatarusanu before the 20minute mark.
Despite reducing arrears before the interval thanks to Nikola Kalinic, hopes of a fightback dipped when Fiorentina skipper Gonzalo Rodriguez was shown a straight red card for an arm-up foul on Icardi.
But Inter were shook up when Josip Ilicic struck on the hour to set up a nervous finale, and Icardi told Sky Sport: “We went off the boil in the second half... and that’s something we have to manage better.
“I don’t know if we’re afraid to win, but we have to kill off games better when we get in front.” After an Ilicic freekick and a tame Kalinic strike kept Handanovic on his toes, Kalinic reduced arrears in style after holding Danilo D’Ambrosio at bay to beat the Inter keeper down low on 37 minutes.
It was his sixth goal of the campaign, all of which have come away from home, but when Rodriguez saw red for stopping an Icardi offensive with his forearm Fiorentina’s hopes dimmed.
Earlier, Gregoire Defrel came off the bench to hit a sensational late leveller as Sassuolo dented Napoli’s Serie A title hopes in a 1-1 draw at the San Paolo. A dominant Napoli looked on their way to a 1-0 win that would have moved them to within six points of Juventus after Lorenzo Insigne put the hosts ahead in the 42nd minute with a sensational strike. But Sassuolo, who became the first Serie A side this season to field an all-Italian starting XI, had Frenchman Defrel to thank for a share of the spoils when he came off the bench to beat Pepe Reina with an equally impressive, 82nd-minute volley. It left Napoli seventh, eight points off the pace. “We’re getting into the penalty area easily, but at 10 up I saw too many fancy moves and that angers me because it shows we’re not focused on killing off games,” Napoli coach Sarri said. – AFP