Red-hot Martinez helps move Inter top as Kvaratskhelia revives Napoli

AFP , Saturday 21 Oct 2023

Lautaro Martinez continued his red-hot scoring form in Inter Milan's 3-0 win at Torino on Saturday which moved his team top of Serie A while Khvicha Kvaratskhelia's brace at Verona put Napoli's title defence back on track.

Lautaro Martinez
Inter Milan's Argentine forward #10 Lautaro Martinez celebrates after scoring the team's second goal during the Italian Serie A football match between Torino and Inter Milan, at Torino's Olympic Stadium, in Turin on October 21, 2023. Photo: AFP


Argentina striker Martinez nodded home his 11th league goal of the season in the 67th minute of a straight-forward win in Turin as Inter went one point ahead of AC Milan, who host third-placed Juventus on Sunday night.

The 26-year-old is already five goals ahead of Victor Osimhen, his nearest rival at the top of the scoring charts, after just nine matches and has become the attacking focal point for Inter who are also the highest scorers in Italy's top flight with 24.

Strike partner Marcus Thuram had opened the scoring eight minutes before when he swept home Denzel Dumfries low pass to take his league tally to three, while Hakan Calhanoglu completed the scoring from the penalty spot in stoppage time.

France forward Thuram has had a brilliant start in Italy where he was born while his World Cup-winning father Lilian played for a star-studded Parma team which won the UEFA Cup in 1999.

Coach Simone Inzaghi will likely play both on Tuesday when Inter host Salzburg in the first of two Champions League matches against the Austrians.

Inter will almost certainly come up against fiercer resistance at the San Siro than they did from Torino who have now gone four matches without scoring a goal.

Ivan Juric's team, missing starting centre-forward Duvan Zapata, look destined for another underwhelming season as they sit 14th on nine points.

Torino are a point behind Sassuolo and Lazio who face off in Saturday's late match.

Wing wizard Kvaratskhelia netted in each half of a 3-1 win at Verona after Matteo Politano's 27th-minute opener as Napoli made light of the absence of injured star striker Victor Osimhen.

Rudi Garcia's side are fifth, five points behind Inter, after a difficult start to the season but are level on 17 points with Fiorentina and Juve after a commanding display at the Stadio Bentegodi.

Frenchman Garcia, who replaced Italy coach Luciano Spalletti in the summer, has been under fire but was backed publicly by owner Aurelio De Laurentiis on Thursday, and was encouraged by the chances created without Osimhem.

"We did what we needed to do today... It's better not to have people out but I wasn't worried," said Garcia.

"We've still got great quality going forward, we scored three times and could have easily got more."

Kvaratskhelia has struggled to recapture the form which made him one of the shining lights of last season's title triumph but on Saturday he showed signs he might be getting back to his brilliant best.

He doubled Napoli's lead two minutes before the break after slamming in a low finish at Lorenzo Montipo's near post.

And the 22-year-old netted the third nine minutes after the break when he easily skipped past Giangiacomo Magnani and rolled home his third league goal of the campaign.

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