The Malta Independent 14 July 2024, Sunday
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Champions League finalists Inter beat Atalanta to secure top-4 finish in Serie A

Associated Press Sunday, 28 May 2023, 06:32 Last update: about 2 years ago

Champions League finalists Inter Milan secured a spot in next season’s competition by beating Atalanta 3-2 in Serie A on Saturday after scoring two goals inside the first three minutes for the first time in more than 80 years.

Mario Pašalić pulled one back for Atalanta in the first half but Lautaro Martínez sealed the win late on, before Luis Muriel scored another for Atalanta in stoppage time.

Inter moved second in Serie A, above Lazio and AC Milan ahead of their matches on Sunday.

It is now assured of a top-four finish as fifth-place Atalanta fell eight points behind the Nerazzurri with just one game left for each.

Inter, which plays Manchester City in the Champions League final on June 10, knew that a point would be enough to guarantee it a place in the top four.

And it got off to the perfect start at San Siro as Martínez threaded a ball through to Romelu Lukaku, who rounded Atalanta goalkeeper Marco Sportiello and scored into the empty net after just 39 seconds.

Inter then doubled its lead in the third minute. Federico Dimarco saw two attempts parried by Sportiello and Nicolò Barella managed to get onto the second rebound and volley it into the roof of the net.

Inter thought it had further extended its lead in the ninth minute but Hakan Çalhanoğlu’s volley was ruled out for offside.

Atalanta recovered from its poor start and managed to get back into the match in the 36th minute when Inter failed to clear a corner and the ball eventually came through to Pašalić, who scored from close range.

Despite Atalanta reducing the deficit, it was Inter which seemed the closer to getting another goal after the break. And it did so in the 77th when Lukaku held off defenders in midfield and managed to send a through ball to Marcelo Brozović, who raced clear on goal before rolling across for Martínez to slot home.

Muriel set up a tense finale when his free kick came off the Inter wall but he managed to strike the rebound in off the crossbar.

ANOTHER ROUTE

Roma will have to rely on winning the Europa League to qualify for the Champions League after losing 2-1 at Fiorentina, following two late goals from its opponent.

Stephan El Shaarawy volleyed Roma into the lead in the 11th minute but Luka Jović leveled in the 85th and Jonathan Ikoné completed the comeback three minutes later.

The result left Roma four points below Milan with just one match remaining.

Roma plays Sevilla in the Europa League final on May 31.

Fiorentina, which lost the Italian Cup final to Inter on Wednesday plays West Ham in the Europa Conference League final on June 7.

RELEGATION BATTLE

The relegation battle will go down to the final day of the season after Spezia was routed 4-0 by Torino.

That left Spezia just one point above the relegation zone and Hellas Verona, which hosts Empoli on Sunday.

Spezia visits Roma in its final match, while Verona travels to Milan.

Also on Saturday, Salernitana fought back to earn a 3-2 win over Udinese.

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