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Magnificent seven for Inter, Lazio spit fury

Rome (AFP) – Inter Milan defender Danilo D’Ambrosio has hailed coach Stefano Pioli’s clear orders as the key to the club’s remarkable turnaround since Frank de Boer was sacked.

Right-back D’Ambrosio opened the scoring as Inter cruised to a 3-0 win over bottom side Pescara on Saturday, notching up a seventh straight win that allowed them to leapfrog imploding Lazio into fourth in the Serie A table — eight places higher than when Dutch legend de Boer was ousted in November.

“Where would we be if he had arrived earlier? Who knows. I’m not one for ifs and buts,” the defender said. “We are just thinking about the future.

“Pioli has brought in very high-intensity training, we’ve improved so much physically and I can assure you we are working so hard.

“The coach has been very clear in giving every one of us our jobs to do. The first defenders are the forwards — and in this way way he’s created a strong group.”

Pescara were buried by the interval as goals from D’Ambrosio and Portuguese midfielder Joao Mario put Inter on cruise control.

Brazilian-born Italy striker Eder came off the bench to complete a comfortable win with just under 20 minutes left as Inter set up next week’s showdown with leaders Juventus in perfect style.

Inter have other business first however: a midweek Italian Cup quarter-final against a Lazio side that suddenly finds itself under pressure after a shock home defeat to mid-table Chievo dented their hopes of European football next season.

Atalanta and AC Milan could both move ahead of the Roman club on Sunday after Roberto Inglese’s 90th-minute strike, a scrappy close-range effort, saw Chievo snatch the points from a Stadio Olimpico clash that Lazio dominated.

– Punch thrown –

And tempers boiled over after the final whistle when club captain Lucas Biglia was involved in an altercation with a fan hurling abuse at the players heading for the tunnel.

The Argentinian midfielder had to be ushered towards the changing rooms by stewards after the fan reportedly spat at him.

Spanish-born striker Mamadou Tounkara, who had watched the match from the stands, then got involved and reportedly threw a punch at the fan. The former Barcelona academy prodigy later issued an apology for his conduct via his social media outlets.

Having coped relatively comfortably with Lazio’s territorial domination, the visitors held out through a frantic five minutes of added-on time to claim a win that bolsters the buffer between them and the relegation battle.

For Lazio it was a second successive defeat after Simone Inzaghi’s squad’s tame surrender at leaders Juventus last weekend.

And the suddenly under-pressure coach admitted he had his work cut out to turn things around.

“It is a defeat that will take its toll on morale, but as the head of this group I have to be big enough to get it off the players’ backs and get them going again.

“The only thing to say is that we have to be more efficient in front of goal. There are lessons here we can learn from and grow.”

The top three are all in action on Sunday with the reigning champions Juventus travelling to Sassuolo looking to hold on to a one-point and one-game-in-hand advantage over Roma, who are at Sampdoria.

Third-placed Napoli host Palermo in Sunday’s late match.

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