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Momentum with Inter in title race as Milan seek response


Milan (AFP) – Inter Milan boss Simone Inzaghi expects a “fight until the final game” as his team battle AC Milan and Napoli in a three-way fight for the Serie A title.

A midweek 3-0 win over Milan at San Siro sent Inter through to a first Italian Cup final since 2011, fuelling hopes of a domestic double in Inzaghi’s first season in charge.

Inter trail Milan by two points but have a game in hand on their city rivals, while Napoli lie two points further back after conceding a stoppage-time equaliser to Roma on Monday.

“The final means ever so much to us. It’ll come towards the end of a league campaign that we want to do as well as we can in, knowing that there’s a long path ahead of us, but we want to fight until the end on all fronts,” said Inzaghi.

“There have been so many changes in the title bid. We’re in a race with some top sides and it’ll be a fight until the final game.”

After hampering Napoli’s bid for a first league crown in 32 years, Roma will attempt to do likewise Saturday against Inter ahead of their Europa Conference League semi-final with Leicester.

Jose Mourinho’s side are unbeaten in 12 league games and making an improbable late push for a Champions League spot. They are five points behind fourth-placed Juventus with five games to play. 

Inter could reclaim top spot before Milan make Sunday’s trip to the capital to take on Lazio, led by the league’s top scorer Ciro Immobile — the first Italian to reach 25 goals in three different Serie A campaigns.

Milan coach Stefano Pioli has urged his players not to let the defeat by Inter derail their title prospects, as they chase a first major trophy since winning the Scudetto in 2011.

“It’s disappointing for us and for our fans so we have to prove our strength by reacting with much conviction,” said Pioli.

“We have a great opportunity to show what we’re become, what we’ve created so far and this is the time to show that.

“We’re determined and eager to do our best in order to be key players in the title race.”

Napoli go to Empoli needing a victory to revive their fading chances, while Juventus travel to Sassuolo on Monday.  

Defeat by Inter at the start of the month and last week’s draw with Bologna effectively ended any outside shot Juventus had at clawing their way back into contention.

One to watch: Tammy Abraham

The England forward is enjoying a superb debut season with Roma, scoring 24 times in 45 appearances following his 40-million-euro ($43 million) signing from Chelsea last August.

Abraham has started all but one league game, taking over as the main man at the Stadio Olimpico after he failed to gain the full trust of Thomas Tuchel while at Stamford Bridge.

Key stats

3 – League goals scored this season by Roma’s Stephan El Shaarawy, all of which have come from the 90th minute onwards.

7 – Consecutive losses for Venezia, who occupy 18th place and are six points from safety.

Fixtures (all times GMT)

Saturday

Torino v Spezia, Venezia v Atalanta (both 1300), Inter Milan v Roma (1600), Hellas Verona v Sampdoria (1845)

Sunday

Salernitana v Fiorentina (1030), Bologna v Udinese, Empoli v Napoli (both 1300), Genoa v Cagliari (1600), Lazio v AC Milan (1845)

Monday

Sassuolo v Juventus (1845) 

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