Inter Milan moved back to within a point of Serie A leaders Napoli and AC Milan thanks to a 2-0 win at Venezia on Saturday, as Hakan Calhanoglu scored in a third consecutive Inter vs Venezia Serie A game for the first time in his career.
Simone Inzaghi’s side defeated leaders Napoli last weekend to boost their title defence, and they never looked like dropping points in Venezia on Saturday evening.
The hosts, who were chasing a third successive Serie A win for the first time since 1962, failed to impose themselves in the first half and deservedly trailed at the break to Calhanoglu’s low drive.
Only Bayern Munich and Liverpool had scored more goals than Inter across the top five European leagues before the weekend. While that did not translate to a free-scoring exhibition this time, Inter finished Venezia off with a late Lautaro Martinez penalty to keep pressure on the top two ahead of their Sunday outings.
Despite dominating, Inter did not threaten the Venezia goal until the 30th minute when Sergio Romero leapt across his goal to keep Ivan Perisic’s header out.
Romero was helpless soon after, however, as Calhanoglu squeezed a staggering 25-yard shot just inside the left post.
Venezia almost levelled with their very first shot five minutes later, with Inter goalkeeper Samir Handanovic tipping Mattia Aramu’s long-range shot over the crossbar.
Aramu went close from distance again just after the break, this time just missing the top-left corner after cutting in from the right-wing.
Inter were at it again as Edin Dzeko tested Romero before Ridgeciano Haps cleared a Milan Skriniar header off the line to keep Venezia in the game.
Romero made several more fine saves, but the visitors finally got the clincher at the death. Haps was deemed to have committed a handball in the box and Martinez confidently dispatched the resulting spot-kick.
Managers always insist that, in a title race, it is not the games against your rivals that ultimately decide the outcome of the season, rather the meetings with lowly opposition.
Had Inter dropped points in Venice, it would have almost meant their hard-fought defeat of Napoli had been for nothing last weekend.
This may not have been a classic but Inter largely managed the game very professionally.
Inter left wing-back Federico Dimarco was utterly tireless here and proved a potent weapon with his set-piece deliveries, laying on six key passes. No one on the pitch touched the ball more times than him (102) and he gave Inzaghi’s side a real drive, ranking first for final-third entries (13).
Argentina forward Angel Correa is yet to truly find his stride since following coach Inzaghi from Lazio to Inter, with this being the latest example of an underwhelming outing. His 25 touches amounted to the fewest among Inter’s outfield players at the time of his 58th-minute withdrawal, which arrived without him recording a single shot.
Venezia travels to Atalanta on Tuesday, November 30 in a Serie A clash a day before Inter host Spezia at the San Siro.