Inter moves 4 points clear with 4-0 win at Udinese

UDINE: Inter’s Ivan Perisic, right, and Udinese’s Silvan Widmer, challenge for the ball during the Serie A soccer match between Udinese and Inter Milan at the Friuli Stadium in Udine, Italy, Saturday. — AP
UDINE: Inter’s Ivan Perisic, right, and Udinese’s Silvan Widmer, challenge for the ball during the Serie A soccer match between Udinese and Inter Milan at the Friuli Stadium in Udine, Italy, Saturday. — AP

MILAN: Mauro Icardi hit back at his critics with two goals as Inter Milan moved provisionally four points clear in the Serie A by comfortably beating Udinese 4-0 on Saturday. The Inter captain and Stevan Jovetic both took advantage of howlers in the Udinese defense to put Inter 2-0 up at halftime.

Icardi, the league’s joint top goalscorer last season and criticized this season for lack of form, doubled his tally late on before Marcelo Brozovic added to Udinese’s embarrassment with a stunning strike.

“Scoring is his (Icardi’s) job,” Inter coach Roberto Mancini said. “We were never worried about him, because at the end he will score goals. It’s normal that forwards go through dry spells, but tonight he played very well, as did Jovetic: They’re beginning to understand each other and that’s a good sign.”

Inter moved four points clear of Fiorentina, which visits Juventus on Sunday. Third-place Napoli hosts Roma the same day, with four of the top five sides playing each other.

“Who will I support tomorrow? It won’t change much, it’s too early,” Mancini added. “All the teams will continue to fight for the title.” Earlier, Bologna continued its resurgence under former Italy coach Roberto Donadoni as it snatched a 1-0 win at fellow relegation struggler Genoa.

Sassuolo’s match against Torino was postponed because of fog. Bologna, which has picked up 13 points in six matches under Donadoni, moved five points clear of the relegation zone.

Genoa has lost three successive matches and fell to 17th spot, two points off the bottom three, after it was leapfrogged by Palermo following the Sicilian side’s 4-1 win over 18th-place Frosinone.

Udinese had early chances before gifting Inter the lead in the 23rd minute. Icardi intercepted a woeful Bruno Fernandes backpass and rounded Maurizio Domizzi before racing through one-on-one and slotting past Udinese goalkeeper Orestis Karnezis.

Udinese could have leveled before Domizzi gave away the ball to Jovetic, who sprinted forward and placed a cheeky chip over Karnezis. Inter goalkeeper Samir Handanovic continued to preserve his side’s lead, and there was worse to come from Udinese seven minutes from time as Francesco Lodi’s awful backpass sent Icardi clear to score his second.


Brozovic capped a great result for Inter three minutes later, curling a magnificent effort into the far top right corner from the edge of the penalty area.

“It’s a pity because we had a great game, especially in the first half,” Udinese coach Stefano Colantuono said. “But if you don’t score it becomes more difficult against teams like Inter, and then you pay for some lapses of concentration.

“But we controlled the game in the first half, they were defending, and shot at goal on our misplaced backpasses.” In Genoa, visiting goalkeeper Antonio Mirante made key saves and Luca Rossettini headed in a corner to claim the winner deep in stoppage time as the home side was made to pay for its profligacy and ill-discipline.

Genoa substitute Diego Perotti was sent off 10 minutes from time for elbowing Amadou Diawara. It was Genoa’s eighth red card in 16 matches.

Diawara also got a red card for comments to the referee after Bologna scored. Edoardo Goldaniga and Franco Vazquez fired Palermo 2-0 up within the opening 17 minutes, which also saw the home side hit the woodwork twice.

Paolo Sammarco got Frosinone back into the game shortly after, but Aleksandar Trajkovski netted his first Serie A goal on the hour to restore Palermo’s two-goal advantage and Alberto Gilardino headed in the fourth from a rebound late on.

It could have been worse for Frosinone as defender Leonardo Blanchard was shown a second yellow and a red card just before halftime but the referee discussed it with his assistant and changed his mind, deciding that the foul was from teammate Mirko Gori on Uros Djurdjevic, who then fell on Blanchard. It was a first win for Palermo coach Davide Ballardini since he replaced Giuseppe Iachini a month ago. – AP

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