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Martinez fires Inter top in Italy as Liverpool date looms

Milan (AFP) – Lautaro Martinez scored a hat-trick as Inter Milan went top of Serie A on Friday with a 5-0 win over rock-bottom Salernitana.

The result edges Inter a point clear of Napoli and AC Milan in a tight three-way title race with all three sides having played 27 matches.

Inter were on a five-game winless run so Friday’s romp is a boost ahead of their midweek return-leg Champions League last-16 clash with Liverpool, who lead 2-0 from their win in Milan last month.

Argentine striker Martinez punched the ground in frustration after smacking a volley off the crossbar on 20 minutes.

But two minutes later he was punching the air in triumph after beating the off-side trap and slotting the opener into the far corner. 

He was on target twice more with thumping strikes just before the break and ten minutes into the second-half.

He did, however, leave the pitch on 90 minutes holding his left thigh gingerly.

Edin Dzeko added a brace from two poached chances inside the six-yard box on 64 and 69 minutes to wrap things up.

Napoli and AC Milan face off on Sunday night as another instalment of an enthralling title race unfolds in Naples.

Chasing a first league crown since the days of Diego Maradona, a sold-out stadium which bears their hero’s name will host two teams locked on 57 points, with Napoli ahead of Milan on goal difference.

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