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Defending champions Inter Milan beat strugglers Spezia 2-0 to keep the pressure on rivals AC Milan and Napoli in the Serie A title race

Defending champions Inter Milan beat strugglers Spezia 2-0 to keep the pressure on rivals AC Milan and Napoli in the Serie A title race, making it 24 league games unbeaten at the San Siro for the ‘Nerazzurri’.

The tone was set right from kick-off, as distant pre-match underdogs Spezia were camped in their own half, although the ‘Little Eagles’ made the occasional foray forward and forced Samir Handanović into the first save of the contest just after the 20-minute mark. Following that scare, Simone Inzaghi’s men continued to dominate possession and began to create some chances of their own.

Inevitably, Inter broke the deadlock, doing so in the 36th minute when Danilo D’Ambrosio’s pass was exquisitely backheeled by Lautaro Martínez into the path of Roberto Gagliardini, who swept past Ivan Provedel for his first strike of the season. Debutant Jakub Kiwior then made a timely block to stop Joaquín Correa doubling his side’s lead, before Handanović brilliantly clawed away Kelvin Amian’s header from a corner on the stroke of half-time.

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Visiting boss Thiago Motta, who was part of Inter’s historic treble-winning team of 2010, knew his charges had to show more ambition, but Inter were just too powerful going forward. A shot from Correa thundered off the bar early in the second half, with Hakan Çalhanoğlu drawing a decent save from Provedel shortly afterwards.

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A penalty was then given as a Lautaro effort came off Kiwior’s raised arm, and the Argentina international stepped up to net his eighth league goal of the campaign. Provedel denied Çalhanoğlu once more, while at the other end, Handanović got down smartly to keep out a snapshot from Rey Manaj and prevent any chance of a late fightback.

The victory takes Inter up to second for the time being ahead of AC Milan’s trip to Genoa, while Spezia continue to hover just above the relegation zone. They will drop into the bottom three if the ‘Rossoneri’ fail to win at the Stadio Luigi Ferraris.

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