Inter and Fiorentina win, Roma beats Lazio 2-0 in derby
MILAN (AP) — Inter Milan and Fiorentina remained level at the top of Serie A after wins at Torino and Sampdoria respectively on Sunday, while Roma kept up the pressure with a 2-0 victory over Lazio in the capital derby.
Fiorentina won 2-0 to remain ahead on goal difference after Inter recorded a third successive 1-0 victory. Roma is a point behind with Napoli a point further back after Gonzalo Higuain scored his ninth league goal of the season to help it beat Udinese 1-0.
Geoffrey Kondogbia scored for Inter, while key saves by Inter goalkeeper Samir Handanovic were also decisive in preserving his side’s lead.
“These are three fundamental points because we get to the international break at the top,” Handanovic said. “At the end we were clinical and we got what we deserved. ... We have to be humble, things might not go well all the time. Only a third of the season has gone, it would be pointless to think of the title now.”
There was a controversial penalty for Roma’s opener, while both teams hit the woodwork in an entertaining match. But unusually few spectators watched the match amid a boycott to protest new security measures.
Elsewhere, Juventus came back from a goal down to win 3-1 at Empoli and move above Lazio on goal difference, with the capital side having lost four of its past five matches.
“It’s the third successive defeat, it’s clear that the derby was a very important game,” Lazio coach Stefano Pioli said. “The match was decided by two incidents: above all the penalty and then our naivety for the second goal. The foul was outside the area, incidents like this in these games are decisive, it wasn’t a penalty.”
High-flying Sassuolo beat relegation-threatened Carpi 1-0, while Genoa rescued a 2-2 draw at fellow struggler Frosinone despite playing more than 50 minutes with 10 men after Sebastian De Maio was sent off for two bookings. Palermo beat Chievo Verona 1-0.
Inter was top of the table and hadn’t lost at Torino in 21 years but was almost behind 30 minutes in when Marco Benassi’s strike from distance crashed off the crossbar.
The visitors took the lead moments later when Rodrigo Palacio nodded on Yuto Nagatomo’s free kick for Kondogbia to volley in at the back post.
Inter, which last won by more than one goal in April, had just two shots on target all match.
In the evening match, Fiorentina knew it had to win to move back level with Inter and took the lead when Josip Ilicic converted a penalty in the 10th minute after Ervin Zukanovic’s handball.
Ilicic combined brilliantly with Nikola Kalinic just before the hour for the Croatia forward to double Fiorentina’s lead.
In a rare show of unity in the Italian capital, hard-core fans of Roma and Lazio boycotted the match in protest at security measures that have split the Stadio Olimpico “curve” — the ends of the stadium where “ultra” fans sit.
Roma got off to the perfect — albeit controversial — start as Santiago Gentiletti tripped Edin Dzeko for a penalty, but television replays showed the contact was just outside the area. The Bosnia and Herzegovina captain fired the spot kick down the middle to give Roma a 10th-minute lead.
Felipe Anderson almost scored a spectacular equalizer in the 26th but he hit the bar from 25 meters (yards). Radja Nainggolan also hit the post shortly before halftime for Roma.
Rudi Garcia’s side did double its advantage just after the hour when Gervinho latched onto Nainggolan’s ball over the top and raced forward before slotting into the near post.