Inter kept themselves on course for a top-four finish in Serie A after they defeated Roma 2-0 in an ill-tempered clash on Saturday.
The Nerazzurri seized a first-half lead through Federico Dimarco’s close-range finish before Romelu Lukaku’s breakaway strike 16 minutes from time sealed the three points at Stadio Olimpico.
Ahead of a Champions League semi-final with arch-rivals Milan on Wednesday, Simone Inzaghi’s team returned to the top four and boosted their hopes of qualifying for next season’s competition.
For Jose Mourinho’s Giallorossi however, defeat leaves them five points off the top four with just four games left to play, leaving them with an uphill battle in hand.
Several stoppages due to injuries meant chances were at a relative premium during a closely fought opening quarter.
Lukaku required treatment in the six-yard area shortly after Lorenzo Pellegrini went close, while Nicola Zalewski came off worse after taking a fast ball to the face.
But Inter took the lead just after the half-hour mark when Dimarco flicked a Denzel Dumfries ball into the net, via a handy deflection off Bryan Cristante.
Roma fought back and were incensed when Matteo Darmian escaped punishment for a handball in the box shortly before the hour mark, with tempers continuing to boil over.
Even so, the hosts still looked in the game, until a defensive misread from Roger Ibanez allowed their opponents to make the most of a long ball downfield.
Lautaro Martinez, who later hit the crossbar, pounced on the loose ball, and played in Lukaku for a composed finish, ultimately sealing victory for Inter with just over a quarter of an hour to go.
2 – Federico Dimarco (6+6) is one of two big-5 European leagues defenders to have scored more than five goals and delivered more than five assists this season (along with Jeremie Frimpong). Foray.#RomaInter pic.twitter.com/rUeSlO12ux
— OptaPaolo (@OptaPaolo) May 6, 2023
What does it mean? Inter edge their noses back ahead of Milan
Having been dislodged briefly by Milan’s earlier win over Lazio, the visitors were able to push their way back into the Champions League places with a hard-fought win.
Overseeing a fifth straight victory, Inzaghi will be delighted to have keep his players moving forward towards their goals.
Dimarco remains dynamite
With another goal to add to his tally for the season, the Inter man continues to make the most of an impressive 2022-23 campaign.
He now has six goals and six assists, making him the second defender in Europe’s big five leagues to exceed five on both counts, after Bayer Leverkusen’s Jeremie Frimpong.
Wayward hosts pay the price
With 15 shots throughout, Mourinho’s men could not be accused of carving out chances, notching five more attempts than Inter throughout.
But with only three on target overall, they were too wasteful with their opportunities, leaving them with no return for their effort at the final whistle.
Key Opta stats
- Roma have not won any of their last 13 Serie A matches in which they have conceded a goal (drawn six, lost seven)
- Since the start of April, no player has been involved in more Serie A goals than Romelu Lukaku and Lautaro Martinez (seven each, level with Boulaye Dia)
- Federico Dimarco is the third Inter defender to score two goals against Roma in a single Serie A season in the three points for a win era (since 1994-95), after Sinisa Mihajlovic (2004-05) and Denzel Dumfries (2021-22)
- Hakan Calhanoglu played his 200th match in Serie A today, becoming the first Turkish player to reach this tally in the three points for a win era (since 1994-95)
- Roma have not scored in a Serie A home match for the first time since their 1-0 defeat against Lazio last November
Both teams turn their attention to European semi-final first legs in midweek. Inter face city rivals Milan in the Champions League on Wednesday, with Roma hosting Bayer Leverkusen in the Europa League the following day.
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