Inter beat Napoli in thriller to fire title warning shot

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Lautaro Martinez fired the crucial goal for Inter Milan in their win over Napoli (AFP/Filippo MONTEFORTE)
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Inter Milan strengthened their Serie A title defence on Sunday with an enthralling 3-2 win over Napoli which moved them to within four points of the league leaders.

Simone Inzaghi's side came back from Piotr Zielinski's powerful early strike to close the gap on both Napoli and AC Milan, who lost 4-3 at Fiorentina on Saturday, in a breathless encounter at the San Siro.

Hakan Calhanoglu levelled the scores from the penalty spot midway through the first half. Ivan Perisic's header just before the break and Lautaro Martinez's smart finish after a heart-pounding upfield surge from Joaquin Correa made sure of the points and a three-way title race even more interesting.

"It was a very important game for us looking at the league table," said Martinez to DAZN.

"We have been playing well but every now and again the result isn't the right one for us, but today the team played with intensity and character."

Napoli, who also scored through Dries Mertens with 11 minutes left, lost their unbeaten league record just as Milan did in Florence after Samir Handanovic pulled off a miracle save to deny Mario Rui's header in stoppage time.

And Mertens then wasted a gilt-edged chance to snatch an unlikely point with second remaining when he skied Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa's perfect cross, completely unmarked and at point-blank range.

To make matters worse for Napoli, Luciano Spalletti also had to watch two of his players come off worse in clashes of heads.

Star striker Victor Osimhen had to leave the field just after the break after he and Milan Skriniar thumped into each other, with Spalletti saying after the match that he hoped it to be a facial injury and nothing more.

- 'No fear' -

And goalkeeper David Ospina collapsed to the ground in worrying fashion after his head whacked into Inter substitute Edin Dzeko's, but both players carried on with their heads bandaged.

"I said to my players at half-time that if we play with fear we won't make courageous choices," said Spalletti of his team's underwhelming first-half display.

"In the second half we did everything much better... We need to face our objectives with no fear, like we did in the second half."

David Okereke struck the only goal to earn Venezia a surprise 1-0 win at Bologna on Sunday, their second impressive victory in as many Serie A games.

Nigerian attacker Okereke, on loan at promoted Venezia from Belgian outfit Club Brugge, poked home the winner in the 61st minute to move Venezia up to 13th and six points from the relegation zone.

The 24-year-old's fourth league goal of the season gave Paolo Zanetti's side a second straight shock win after also beating Jose Mourinho's Roma before the international break.

Sampdoria jumped out of the drop zone with a 2-0 win at bottom side Salernitana which came through a Francesco Di Tacchio own goal and a nicely taken finish from Antonio Candreva.

Roberto D'Aversa's Samp are 16th and sent local rivals Genoa into the bottom three ahead of Andriy Shevchenko's first match in charge of the club against Roma in Sunday's late match.

In the early game Sassuolo drew 2-2 with lowly Cagliari, who snatched a point in part thanks to an acrobatic scissor kick from Keita Balde five minutes before half-time.

td/mw

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