Inter moved back to the summit of Serie A in the latest turn of an enthralling title race after they claimed a 3-1 win over Spezia.
The Nerazzurri threw down a gauntlet to rivals Milan as they deposed them at the top of the table thanks to goals from Marcelo Brozovic, Lautaro Martinez and Alexis Sanchez.
Simone Inzaghi’s defending champions could well end the weekend back in second place, with their San Siro neighbours set to face Genoa later on Good Friday.
But victory at Stadio Alberto Picco at least means the Nerazzurri remain neck-and-neck, with a game in hand on the Rossoneri beyond this latest round ensuring destiny stays in their own hands.
17 – With Marcelo Brozovic, Inter have scored with 17 different players; the Nerazzurri have only done better in a single Serie A season in 2007/08 and 2019/20 (18). Cooperative.#SpeziaInter pic.twitter.com/mXz8tcinRw
— OptaPaolo (@OptaPaolo) April 15, 2022
In a game where opportunities were initially at a premium, it took almost 15 minutes for either side to register an attempt, with Denzel Dumfries heading wide.
But when Danilo D’Ambrosio headed down a looping cross near the edge of the box in the 31st minute, there was little stopping Brozovic’s rasping drive into the top-left corner.
The visitors were not as clinically composed as they would have liked, however.
Nicolo Barella slid reaching for the ball past the hour to fumble a great chance for a second, while Dumfries blazed a subsequent low cross way over the crossbar.
But when Martinez flicked Ivan Perisic’s cross beyond Ivan Provedel with just over a quarter-hour to play, Inter looked to be home and dry.
Giulio Maggiore fired home a response late on to set up a nervy final act, but the visitors restored the two-goal cushion in stoppage time, with Sanchez drilling a squared Martinez pass home.
What does it mean? Inter keep pace in thrilling title race
Even if their victory proved to be a slightly more stressful affair than it perhaps should have been, a win is a win for the Nerazzurri.
It keeps them on track to defend the Scudetto they won last term, with their additional match – a rearranged trip to Bologna on April 27 – increasingly crucial to a successful retention.
Brozovic latest scorer to spread the love
The Croatian’s first-half finish made him the 17th different player to find the net in Serie A this season for Inter, showcasing a remarkable breadth of finishers among their squad.
Only twice have more individuals scored for Inter in a single top-flight league campaign, in 2007-08 and 2019-20, when they had 18 players.
Spezia fail to break Inter duck
Meetings between Spezia and Inter have been few and far between, with just five competitive fixtures between the two previously.
Spezia have failed to win any of their encounters with Inter previously, and now sit at an aggregate scoreline deficit of 16-4 against the Nerazzurri.
Inter play Milan in the second leg of their Coppa Italia semi-final clash on Tuesday.
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