Matteo Politano and Roberto Gagliardini made the most of lucky ricochets to give Inter a 2-0 win over SPAL, but Marcelo Brozovic and Joao Miranda picked up injuries.
The Nerazzurri needed a victory to stay within touching distance of Milan in third ahead of next week’s Derby della Madonnina, but missed Mauro Icardi (officially due to a knee injury, unofficially since he was stripped of the captaincy on February 13), Radja Nainggolan, not fully fit Ivan Perisic and Keita Balde Diao, while Milan Skriniar and Danilo D’Ambrosio were rested to avoid bookings that would rule them out of the derby. It meant Kwadwo Asamoah was pushed into a more advanced role. SPAL had Thiago Cionek suspended, Alessandro Murgia and Manuel Lazzari unavailable.
Lautaro Martinez volleyed over the bar from a Cedric Soares cross, having got in front of Kevin Bonifazi, while Andrea Petagna’s header skimmed the upright with Samir Handanovic rooted to the spot.
Lautaro thought he had given Inter the lead on 32 minutes with a marvellous finish, as he chested down the Asamoah assist, cut back past a defender and drilled home from 12 yards. However, the referee disallowed the goal after a VAR viewing, as the Argentine had handled on the first control.
There was more bad news for Inter, because soon after Marcelo Brozovic pulled up with a muscular problem and had to be replaced by Antonio Candreva. It was the worst possible outcome ahead of the Eintracht Frankfurt and Milan games.
Joao Miranda had to clear a loose ball on a free kick from five yards, as Petagna was ready to tap in at the back post.
To make matters even worse, Miranda went off at half-time with a suspected fractured nose after a coming together with Petagna.
Cedric Soares tested Emiliano Viviano with an in-swinging corner and Antonio Candreva went down far too easily looking for a penalty.
Inter finally broke through when Lautaro Martinez was trying to set up Candreva, but the Bonifazi tackle redirected the ball into the path of Politano, who took a touch, spun round and fired in from 12 yards.
The second goal was more or less identical, as this time Cedric’s attempted shot was deflected, turned into an assist for Roberto Gagliardini, who took a touch and struck.
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