Lautaro Martinez scored the only goal as Inter made hard work of a 1-0 win over struggling Hellas Verona at San Siro.
Though the team effort was far from convincing, the Nerazzurri’s in-form Argentina forward struck early to secure the narrow victory that moves them level on points with third-placed Juventus in Serie A.
Martinez has now netted three times in four appearances since his national team’s World Cup success, while he took his league tally for the campaign to nine goals.
Meanwhile, Inter maintained their record of having never lost a top-flight match against Verona on home soil, where they have won each of their last eight games.
— OptaPaolo (@OptaPaolo) January 14, 2023
Inter broke through after just three minutes when the ball fell kindly for Martinez following Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s promising burst into the Verona penalty area, and the striker neatly guided it into the far corner.
No side have scored more first-half goals than Inter in Serie A this season, and they looked to build on their strong start, Martinez heading straight at Lorenzo Montipo from Roberto Gagliardini’s cross.
Referee Michael Fabbri waved away a penalty appeal from the hosts just before the break, despite Fabio Depaoli appearing to deflect Mkhitaryan’s shot behind with his arm.
Inter thought they had doubled their advantage in the 63rd minute when Martinez brilliantly dinked the ball over the advancing Montipo, only to be denied for an earlier foul on Pawel Dawidowicz.
Winless in their previous 22 clashes with Inter since a 1-0 victory in February 1992, Verona went close to an equaliser when Sulemana’s low drive from a tight angle called Andre Onana into action with 20 minutes remaining.
Substitute Kristjan Asllani almost put a seal on victory with a spectacular long-range effort, but Martinez’s early strike proved enough for the hosts.
— Inter (@Inter_en) January 14, 2023
What does it mean? Inter maintain Verona dominance
Though not a particularly memorable victory as far as Inter are concerned, it was an important one for the Nerazzurri as they maintained the pressure on their title rivals, now trailing second-placed Milan by just a point.
They also remain unbeaten in all 32 of their home league meetings with Verona, who stay six points from safety.
Martinez the man of the moment
Martinez continues to ride the crest of a wave following his World Cup win with Argentina just four weeks ago.
Napoli’s Victor Osimhen (12) is the only player to score more Serie A goals this season than the 25-year-old Martinez, whose strike came from a game-high three shots, while he also drew the most fouls during the contest (four).
No joy for Dzeko
Dzeko has fond memories of playing Verona. Indeed, he has scored four times against the Gialloblu, who were also the opponents when he made his Serie A debut for Roma in August 2015.
His latest appearance was far from memorable. The forward was replaced by Joaquin Correa in the 69th minute having failed to register a shot on target, while his tally of just 17 successful passes was the lowest recorded by any starting Inter player.
Inter look to maintain their impressive streak when they travel to Saudi Arabia to face great rivals Milan in the Supercoppa Italiana on Wednesday. Three days later, a home clash with Lecce provides Verona’s latest opportunity to get points on the board and move them closer to Serie A safety.
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