”We can’t deny the fact that it’s a tough result against a direct rival competing for the same objective as us,” said Luciano Spalletti, in his post-match news conference. “We managed the match in the right way for long spells of it, but we weren’t fortunate with the early chances.
Thanks to AC Milan’s loss Saturday, the Nerazzurri remain in 3rd overall, two points clear of their cross-town rivals. Lazio is now in striking distance of a Champions League position as they are just three points back of AC Milan.
Lazio does have a match in hand and will face Udinese on April 17.
But, the story Sunday was the play of Samir Handanovic.
The Inter captain and goalkeeper, after being beaten by Milinkovic-Savic in the 13th minute, kept Inter in the match, pushing aside strong efforts from Luis Alberto and Bastos.
Milikovic-Savic picked up the winner with a header off a cross from Alberto.
The Nerazzurri were limited on offense after manager Luciano Spalletti kept striker Mauro Icardi out of the lineup after Friday’s training session. With fellow striker Lautaro Martinez also on the bench, Inter’s attack was left on the shoulders of Keita Balde, Matteo Politano, Ivan Perisic and Radja Nainggolan.
Despite Inter Milan having more possession, their ability to create chances were more limited.
“We didn’t play badly but we couldn’t score,” Keita said, following the match. “Physically, I was feeling better right from the start, even if I dropped off a bit toward the end.”
Perisic had two chances at goal, but both were turned away by Lazio goalkeeper Thomas Strakosha. Nainggolan also had a look at goal, but again, Strakosha was there to fend off the challenge.
“They took the lead and were able to play the game that they wanted to play,” Spalletti said. “We took to the pitch well but these episodes changed the direction of the game and made things difficult.”
With the weekend results, there are now eight points separating Inter Milan in third and Torino in ninth, creating a wide open race for the final two Champions League positions.
Inter return to action on April 3 with a match at Genoa. Kickoff is scheduled for 3 p.m. EDT.
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