Keita Balde Diao gave a message of support for his “brother” Kalidou Koulibaly after inspiring Inter to a 1-0 win over Empoli.
Inter claimed an away win without any of their fans present after Empoli refused to sell tickets to them in the wake of the racist abuse suffered by Napoli defender Koulibaly at San Siro on Wednesday.
The Nerazzurri will play their next two home league games behind closed doors, with fans kept away as punishment for the chants aimed at Koulibaly.
Keita’s winner ensured they will go into those games in the new year with a nine-point lead over Roma in fifth as third-placed Inter chase a second successive top-four finish.
And he had kind words for fellow Senegal international Koulibaly afterwards.
He told Sky Sport Italia: “It’s a very important victory for us, we wanted it at all costs before the break. We always aim high, no matter who we play. We are Inter and I’m proud to wear these colours.
“Koulibaly? He’s my brother, we play together in the national team. What happened on Wednesday night shouldn’t happen, football is hope. We have to be united for a better world.”
— OptaPaolo (@OptaPaolo) December 29, 2018
Inter coach Luciano Spalletti said to Sky Sport Italia of his side’s performance: “If you don’t approach the games with the right mindset, the opponents become dangerous.
“In the beginning, we weren’t great, but in the second half, it went better. They had run a lot, so we took control of the game, ultimately it’s a fundamental victory.”
On Keita, he added: “Even if a player is missing, there is always someone available with the same strengths. Of course, all of these can’t play together, but if you can alternate between them and get the best out of the players, you will get the points.
“I see Keita as a completely different person to what was described after his time at Lazio.”
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