MILAN: Chris Smalling plunged Inter Milan further into crisis by heading Roma to a 2-1 triumph at the San Siro which kept his team in touch with Serie A leaders Napoli, 3-1 winners over...
MILAN: Chris Smalling plunged Inter Milan further into crisis by heading Roma to a 2-1 triumph at the San Siro which kept his team in touch with Serie A leaders Napoli, 3-1 winners over Torino.
England defender Smalling perfectly met Lorenzo Pellegrini’s free-kick with 15 minutes remaining to complete a clinical Roma comeback from going behind to Federico Dimarco’s fine first-half strike.
“I hope I can keep scoring goals,” Smalling told DAZN after netting his second match-winner of the season.
“We’ve got a very strong squad this season, and we have big goals we’re aiming at.”
Jose Mourinho’s side, who levelled through a superb Paulo Dybala volley six minutes before half-time, showed they can do it against the big boys with a mature performance which for once didn’t finish with wasted chances leaving them wondering what might have been.
They are four points behind Napoli in fifth place after a win which also leaves Inter, who dominated early on but fell away, further back in the title race.
Simone Inzaghi’s seventh-placed team are eight points off the pace after losing for the fourth time in their eight matches, hardly the best preparation for the crucial Champions League visit of Barcelona on Tuesday.
“We can’t help being disappointed after what was a completely undeserved defeat today,” Inzaghi told DAZN.
“It was our best performance of the season but we came away from it empty-handed, and that’s painful.”
Inter also trail their local rivals AC Milan by five points after two stoppage-time strikes from Fode Ballo-Toure and Rafael Leao snatched a 3-1 win for the champions at Empoli.
Milan, who took the lead through Ante Rebic with 11 minutes remaining, were left reeling when Nedim Bajrami’s pinpoint free-kick levelled the scores in the 92nd minute.
But with Empoli still celebrating what they assumed was a hard-earned point, Ballo-Toure put Milan back ahead when he pushed in Rade Krunic’s knockdown.
And Leao, who set up Rebic’s opener and had been the star performer for Milan, then capped a stunning win by racing through on goal unopposed and classily dinking in the third in the seventh minute of added time.
It was another superb display from Portugal winger Leao, who has scored four goals and set up six more in all competitions this season, an incredible number which makes him the one to watch at Chelsea on Wednesday.
Coach Stefano Pioli will need him on top form as Davide Calabria and Alexis Saelemaekers joined a long injury list which also features Theo Hernandez and Mike Maignan.
“With this spirit and determination, we are ready for anything,” Pioli told Sky Sport. “It is nearly three years since I have been here, we have our identity and ideas.” Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa scored his maiden Serie A goals in Napoli’s home win over spirited Torino, his brace in the first 12 minutes setting up the hosts for their sixth win on the bounce in all competitions.
Khvicha Kvaratskhelia’s fifth of his first Serie A season eight minutes before half-time will also keep Napoli in first place unless Atalanta beat Fiorentina by five goals on Sunday.
“I’m very happy, I don’t want to lie, it’s the first time for me in Serie A,” Anguissa told DAZN.
“It’s important to score but I just want to do my job. If the goals come I’m happy but the first thing for me is my team, for my team to win.”
Napoli go into next week’s trip to Ajax in high spirits knowing they could take a big step towards the knockout stage of the Champions League.
Luciano Spalletti’s side have also netted 18 times in their eight league fixtures despite having to do without starting centre-forward Victor Osimhen for their last three matches.
Torino, who scored through Antonio Sanabria just before the break, stay ninth after losing their third straight game and are level on 10 points with local rivals Juventus who host Bologna on Sunday.