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3 first-half goals propel Inter Milan past Udinese, 4-0

Rafinha gets his first and Icardi closes in on Immobile.

Udinese Calcio v FC Internazionale - Serie A
Mauro Icardi of FC Internazionale scores a goal during the Serie A match between Udinese Calcio and FC Internazionale at Stadio Friuli on May 6, 2018 in Udine, Italy.
Photo by Gabriele Maltinti/Getty Images

Inter Milan came into Sunday knowing it needed to not waste opportunities and collect three points on the road as the team chases Champions League qualification.

Well, three first-half goals — including two in the span of just a few minutes — helped the Nerazzurri achieve three points in a 4-0 win at Udinese.

It was the 14th straight match without a win for Udinese and put Inter just one point back of both Lazio and Roma who are holding on to the last two Champions League positions. Both Lazio and Roma kick off later Sunday.

The win also included a first goal for Brazilian Rafinha who has made headlines over the last two weeks with his statement of wanting to stay at Inter after his loan spell is over. Mauro Icardi also notched his 28th league goal of the season — 99th in Serie A — one back of Lazio’s Ciro Immobile for the league’s top scorer.

But, it was Andrea Ranocchia who opened the scoring for Inter. In the 12th minute, following an unsuccessful corner, Joao Cancelo blasted a follow-up corner into the area that glanced off Ranocchia’s head and into the back of the net.

Udinese suffered from not really being able to mount much in the way of an attack, managing just one shot on target in the first 45 minutes. The shot by Kevin Lasagna was forced away by Samir Handanovic.

Then, in the 43rd minute, it was the Brazilian Rafinha who opened his account with the Nerazzurri after a brilliant piece of movement between he and Antonio Candreva. Candreva could have taken control of the ball outside the area, but smartly left it for Rafinha, who drove in and drilled the ball past Albano Bizzarri to put Inter up 2-0.

Just a few minutes later, Icardi notched his 99th goal in Serie A off a nice pass from Marcelo Brozovic. Epic Brozo found Icardi streaking down the right side of the field, connected with the Argentinian who then made a few touches before finding nearly the same spot Rafinha found to give Inter a 3-0 halftime lead.

The second half didn’t get much better for Udinese, who are in the midst of a relegation fight, just three points clear of Chievo and the drop zone.

Seko Fofana came through on a strong challenge to Ivan Perisic by stepping on his calf. After a look through the VAR, Fofana was shown off with a straight red card.

Facing just 10 men, Inter didn’t put up much in the way of an attack over the next 20 minutes. Both teams showed a much slower pace of play than the first 45 minutes of the game.

In the 71st minute, almost by accident, Borja Valero found the back of the net and put the game out of reach with a poke just past Bizzarri.

Perisic was looking to the middle outside the area. His pass found Icardi’s feet but was redirected to Valero who was barely onside. Udinese’s defense looked planted as Valero placed his shot into the back of the net.

Now, the Nerazzurri will return to the San Siro for their final home date of the season next Saturday when they host Sassuolo — another team battling above the relegation zone. Kick off next weekend will be at 2:45 p.m.

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