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Tuesday, 15 June 2021

Inter on brink of Serie A title with win that relegates Crotone

Reuters , Saturday 1 May 2021
Inter Milan
Inter Milan's Achraf Hakim, second from left, celebrates after scoring his side's second goal during the Italian Serie A soccer match between Crotone and Inter Milan at the Ezio Scida Stadium in Crotone, Italy, Saturday, May 1, 2021 (AP)

Inter Milan's Christian Eriksen scored midway through the second half to set the runaway Serie A leaders on the way to a 2-0 win at Crotone on Saturday that moved them within a point of clinching the title and confirmed their hosts' relegation.

Inter are on 82 points, 14 clear of second-placed Atalanta, and need one point to guarantee a first league title since 2010 due to their superior head-to-head record over the Bergamo club.

However, they will be crowned champions on Sunday if Atalanta fail to win at Sassuolo.

Eriksen’s deflected effort four minutes after coming off the bench found the bottom corner in the 69th minute to make the breakthrough and Achraf Hakimi finished a counter-attack to double Inter's lead in stoppage time.

The goal condemned bottom side Crotone to relegation, as Serse Cosmi’s side have 18 points, 13 fewer than Cagliari in the safety zone in 17th place with four games remaining.

Inter were twice denied by the woodwork in the first half as Romelu Lukaku glanced a close-range header off the upright before a Lautaro Martinez shot struck the foot of the post.

Conte turned to his bench in the 65th minute to inject some life into his side's attack with a positive triple change, introducing Eriksen, winger Ivan Perisic and striker Alexis Sanchez.

The move immediately paid off as Lukaku laid a pass into the path of Eriksen four minutes later and the Dane’s powerful shot took a deflection on its way into the net.

Lukaku’s involvement made him the first player to score 20 or more goals and provide at least 10 assists in a single Serie A season since OPTA started collecting the data in 2004/05.

Perisic came close to extending the lead with a curling shot and the Croatian then set up Lukaku but the Belgian's effort was disallowed for offside.

Hakimi made sure of the points late on by sliding a neat finish under goalkeeper Alex Cordaz to complete a sweeping counter-attack as Inter moved closer to the title.

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