Thursday, May 25, 2017

Inter 4 Empoli 3: Icardi brace secures victory

SoccerNews in Serie A 31 May 2015

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Inter rounded out a disappointing season with an entertaining 4-3 win over Empoli at San Siro.

Mauro Icardi struck twice for the hosts and laid on the opener for Rodrigo Palacio, while Marcelo Brozovic grabbed the other in a game that saw all seven goals scored in the second half.

Levan Mchedlidze and Manuel Pucciarelli had pulled Empoli back to 2-2, before the former netted a late consolation for the visitors.

The result sees Inter climb one place to eighth, but fails to disguise the disappointment of a season in which they failed to qualify for Europe.

Empoli, meanwhile, end the season in 15th.

Inter were the only side who threatened to break the deadlock in the first 45 minutes, though they found Davide Bassi in the visiting goal in excellent form.

Yuto Nagatomo was the first to test him in the sixth minute, a left-footed drive from the edge of the box needing to be tipped over the bar.

Bassi had to be sharp to deny both Palacio and Icardi in quick succession, while the former tested him again with a low drive as the hosts built up a head of steam before the break.

They continued to dominate at the start of the second half, leading to them scoring twice in the space of four minutes.

Bassi for once could do nothing to save his side when Icardi advanced towards him, the striker squaring the ball back inside for Palacio to slide in and poke the ball into an unguarded net.

Icardi’s unselfishness was rewarded when he was played through again by Mateo Kovacic soon after. This time he had no need to look for a team-mate, instead curling home.

However, Empoli have been the draw specialists on their travels this season – 10 of their away fixtures have finished level – and they responded with a quick-fire brace of their own.

Mchedlidze halved the deficit by heading home a deflected cross from the left, then Pucciarelli made it 2-2 by shooting low beyond Samir Handanovic.

Both sides had glorious chances to move ahead as the game became increasingly open, Icardi missing the best of them when he somehow failed to find an open target from five yards out.

Brozovic did not make the same mistake in the 70th minute when the ball broke kindly to him in the area, his low, left-footed shot speeding past Bassi into the bottom corner.

Inter opened up a two-goal lead for a second time when Icardi struck again, before Mchedlidze matched the Argentine’s efforts by grabbing a second in the closing minutes, his sweetly-struck shot from the edge of the box leaving Handanovic rooted to the spot.

In the end, though, it was no more than a late consolation for the visitors.

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