Mauro Icardi broke his goal drought in spectacular style, netting four goals – including a 14-minute hat-trick – as Inter crushed Sampdoria 5-0.
Both sides were in dire need of a boost, as the Nerazzurri had won only two of their last 12 Serie A games and risked falling behind in the race for a top four finish, while the Blucerchiati were stunned 4-1 by Crotone and were slipping out of the Europa League spots. Mauro Icardi and Milan Skriniar returned to face their old club, but Karol Linetty sat out a ban for the hosts.
Inter had a very poor recent record at Marassi, managing just one point – and one goal – in their last three league visits.
It was a sluggish start, as Icardi and Duvan Zapata scuffed from promising situations, but it sprung to life on 21 minutes with a flurry of Inter chances.
First Rafinha got the ball under his feet from six yards and set up Ivan Perisic to sting Emiliano Viviano’s gloves at the near post, then then the goalkeeper parried a Danilo D’Ambrosio header from the corner and Joao Cancelo’s third set-piece was curled directly on to the crossbar.
Viviano was eventually beaten by a looping Perisic header into the near top corner from 12 yards, meeting a Cancelo cross from the right.
Moments later, Rafinha went down rather easily between Edgar Barreto and Lucas Torreira, so Icardi stepped up and converted the penalty by sending specialist Viviano the wrong way. It was his 100th Serie A goal, the first since January 5.
It was 101 moments later in true style, because Perisic’s pull-back from the by-line was deflected and Icardi showed great skill and guile to back-heel it in from five yards.
Things got even worse for Samp, as Bartosz Bereszynski limped off with an injury and they introduced midfielder Valerio Verre. They tried to fight back, as Dennis Praet was left unmarked on a corner and forced Samir Handanovic to parry with his feet at the near post.
Icardi nearly completed his hat-trick in the space of eight minutes, shinning a Cancelo free kick over.
Duvan Zapata thought he’d pulled one back, but his header on a Nicola Murru cross smacked the upright.
Instead, Icardi did get the hat-trick in 14 minutes and seven seconds, as Rafinha’s attempted back-heel didn’t surprise Viviano, but Maurito blasted the follow-up under the bar from six yards.
Incredibly, Icardi added his fourth of the game and Inter’s fifth after the restart, as his half-volley into the ground bounced over a helpless Viviano.
Gianluca Caprari came off the bench and immediately risked a straight red card for his high and late tackle on Rafinha. The game was to all intents and purposes over once Icardi was substituted, but Antonio Candreva wasted a golden opportunity to get his first goal of the season when Perisic squared it on a silver platter.
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