Embattled Icardi misses penalty as Cagliari stun Inter


Milan (AFP) – Disputed captain Mauro Icardi missed a first-half penalty as Inter Milan’s unlikely title hopes were dented by a shock 2-1 San Siro defeat to Cagliari on Sunday.

Elsewhere, high-flying Lazio needed a 97th minute penalty from Italy forward Ciro Immobile to rescue a share of the spoils at home to Bologna, who saw Filip Helander hit his maiden goal for the club in the 10th minute.

Fiorentina were left below mid-table at 12 points behind leaders and champions Juventus after being held to a scoreless draw at home to Atalanta. 

Empoli snatched a point from another scoreless stalemate, away to Genoa, while Pietro Iemmello’s 86th minute winner secured the points for Sassuolo in a 2-1 home win over rock bottom Crotone. 

Lazio’s draw means AC Milan, eight points behind Juventus, can dislodge Napoli from third place if the Rossoneri manage a win at Chievo in Sunday’s late game.

If successful, it would compound matters at city rivals Inter, who had a day to forget as a row surrounding Icardi simmered either side of a shock defeat that has left Frank De Boer’s men in 11th at 10 points behind Juventus.

Inter management warned even before kick-off they could concede to demands by fans to strip Icardi of the armband over allegedly false comments he made in a recently-published autobiography. 

Icardi earned the chance to calm the waters when Inter were awarded a penalty in the 25th minute, but he failed to grasp it.

Play initially continued after Bruno Alves’s tried to grab Icardi by the neck in the area. Moments later, the referee pointed to the penalty spot after being notified of an alleged foul by the fourth official.

Icardi stepped up but fired a low drive wide of Marco Storari’s upright, spurning the chance to pull level with Serie A goals leader Edin Dzeko, who took his tally to seven with a brace for Roma in a 3-1 win at Napoli on Saturday.

It was the third time Icardi had failed from the spot in his last four attempts in the league, and his miss would be felt by full-time.

Inter had dominated while struggling to find a way past Storari, although shortly after the restart Samir Handanovic kept the hosts in the game with a superb double save on Federico Melchiorri and Marco’s Sau follow-up.

Moments later, Inter broke the deadlock when Joao Mario got his foot to Ivan Perisic’s rolled pass, the Portugal midfielder beating Storari at the second attempt on 56 minutes.

Handanovic did well to thwart Davide Di Gennaro, while Icardi’s glanced a header wide of Storari’s upright soon after.

Cagliari finally drew level when Di Gennaro’s ball over the defence deflected off Jeison Murillo, and Melchiorri sprung the offside trap to beat Handanovic with a 71st minute leveller.

Melchiorri almost had his second with a diving header that went inches wide, but the big striker made amends with a cross that took a deflection off Murillo before Handanovic somehow bundled it over the line five minutes from the end.

Inter’s efforts to snatch a late draw left them exposed at the back and only Mauricio Isla’s lack of finishing saved further embarrassment when the Chilean fired straight at Handanovic on a one-on-one.

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