MILAN: World Cup winner Lautaro Martinez continued his roaring start to the year as he set Inter Milan on their way to a 1-0 victory over AC Milan in the Derby della Madonnina on Sunday.
Martínez has been in fantastic form since helping Argentina win the World Cup in December and he netted his seventh goal in his last eight matches as Inter consolidated second spot in Serie A with a second win over their fierce rival in less than three weeks.
It was Martinez’s 12th league goal of the season, putting him four behind leading Serie A goalscorer Victor Osimhen, who scored another two on Sunday to help runaway leader Napoli win 3-0 at lowly Spezia.
Inter are 13 points behind Napoli and three points above third-place Roma. They are five points above Lazio, Atalanta and Milan, which has slipped to sixth after a woeful start to the year.
The Rossoneri’s winless run extended to seven matches. That streak included elimination from the Italian Cup and a 3-0 loss to Inter in the Super Cup.
Before the derby, Milan had also conceded an unprecedented nine goals in their past two Serie A matches.
With that perhaps playing in their minds, the Rossoneri defended deep from the start and rarely got out of their own half. Milan had to wait almost an hour for its first shot, and that was off target.
Inter almost took the lead in the 10th minute but Martínez headed just wide of the right upright.
Martinez did better in the 34th as he got away from Simon Kjær at the near post to get his head to a corner and it took a deflection off the Milan defender on the way in.
Romelu Lukaku thought he had scored his first league goal since August, late on, but the whistle had already gone for a foul by him on Malick Thiaw.
Martínez also had a goal ruled out for offside.
Osimhen appears to be firing Napoli to the Serie A title as the Nigeria forward netted for the fifth straight league match.
Spezia had defended well against Napoli’s stellar attack but gifted the visitors a penalty less than 10 seconds after the break when defender Arkadiusz Reca was trying to hold off Matteo Politano but didn’t anticipate that the bounce of the ball would take it onto his outstretched arm.
Khvicha Kvaratskhelia converted the penalty, prompting the game to open up.
Osimhen had a goal ruled out in the 62nd for pulling back Mattia Caldara but he headed in his first in the 68th and doubled his tally five minutes later following another assist from Kvaratskhelia.
Spezia remained five points above the relegation zone.
Torino beat Udinese 1-0 to leapfrog their opponent into the Europa Conference League qualifying spot.
Torino are one point above Udinese and Bologna, who won 2-1 at Fiorentina for its first victory in Florence in 13 years.