Internazionale put more pressure on stuttering the Serie A leaders Juventus when two goals by Romelu Lukaku and one from Alexis Sánchez gave them a 3-0 win at relegation-threatened Genoa on Saturday.
Inter, who have two games left, moved above Atalanta into second place with 76 points, four behind Juventus who host Sampdoria on Sunday. Juve, who have three games to play, will wrap up the title if they beat Sampdoria but they have looked shaky recently with one win in five games.
Lukaku headed Inter in front in the 34th minute and, although Inter were far from impressive, Sánchez made the game safe with seven minutes left. Lukaku added the third, his 23rd league goal of the season, in stoppage time.
Genoa stayed 17th with 36 points, four clear of the relegation zone although Lecce, who are immediately below them, have a game in hand away to Bologna on Sunday.
The current season has been the most difficult in Italian football history, Juve’s coach Maurizio Sarri said earlier as he tried to explain the leaders’ inconsistent form over the last month. Although they have a five-point advantage with three games to play, Juve have only won once in their last five matches and have kept their lead because rivals Inter and Lazio have also slumped.
“What mark would I give Juventus so far? A good one because this is the most difficult championship in the history of Italian football,” Sarri said
“In the light of the obvious difficulties, I think the team has performed well …. This is an atypical phase. It’s never happened before that we’ve played the championship in July.”
However, Sarri was pleased with the team’s attitude. “We lost our shape and organisation in Udine [where they lost 2-1 in midweek] but the positive thing is that it happened because we were trying so hard to win,” he said. “I prefer to lose because of that than for being too passive, which has also happened a few times.“
Sarri said there was little time to prepare for games. “We are not doing any kind of preparation because, playing every 72 hours, it’s not possible. We’ll prepare for tomorrow’s game in 30 or 40 minutes tomorrow morning,” he added. “Clearing your head after a game and then recharging for the next one in a few days is not simple and does not always come automatically.”
Elsewhere, Dejan Kulusevski gave another glimpse of his potential by curling in a stunning winner as Parma beat relegated Brescia 2-1 away.
The 20-year-old set up Parma’s opening goal when he latched on to Gervinho’s pass and pulled the ball back for Matteo Darmian to score in the 59th minute although Daniele Dessena pounced on a mix-up in the Parma defence to equalise three minutes later.
Parma’s 81st-minute winner started with a throw-in into the Brescia area. The ball was laid off to Kulusevski and he met it first time and curled his shot into the far corner from an unlikely angle.
Born in Sweden to Macedonian parents, Kulusevski was loaned to Parma by Atalanta before the start of the season. Atalanta sold him to Juventus in a €35m deal in January although he remained at Parma for the rest of the season.
Hapless Sassuolo had four goals disallowed for offside, three of them following VAR reviews, in an unlucky 2-0 defeat by Napoli.
Elseid Hysaj put Napoli ahead in the eighth minute, the Albanian’s first goal for the club on his 193rd appearance, with a low shot. Filip Djuricic had the ball in the net for Sassuolo in the 32nd minute but the linesman flagged and it was immediately disallowed for offside.
Four minutes later, Djuricic again thought he had scored when he fired in the rebound after Hamed Junior Traore’s shot was saved by David Ospina. But, after a long VAR review and with Napoli waiting to kick off, the goal was disallowed for offside against Traore.
Francesco Caputo had a goal chalked off two minutes after the restart, then it was Domenico Berardi’s turn when his effort was ruled out for offside against Caputo who had played the ball to him. In both cases, Napoli were waiting to restart when the goal was disallowed.
Matteo Politano hit the post late on for Napoli and Allan rubbed more salt into Sassuolo’s wounds when he swept home the second in stoppage time.
Napoli, who have qualified for the Europa League as Coppa Italia winners, stayed seventh