European roundup: Inter slump to defeat again as Barça extend lead

Internazionale lost more ground in the race to finish second in Serie A after they slumped to their third successive defeat when they were beaten 1-0 at home by Fiorentina. While Napoli hold a 19-point advantage over second-placed Lazio, Inter could have pulled level with Maurizio Sarri’s side on 52 points had they won.

“There is great disappointment, we lost two consecutive home matches. We need to work more, starting with me,” Inter’s manager, Simone Inzaghi, said. “Fiorentina are a quality squad, the lads did all they could. It’s just like this at the moment, we need to be more determined, because we had so many chances to score and we should’ve taken them.”

Fiorentina could have taken the lead after 12 minutes but a brilliant double save from André Onana kept out Gaetano Castrovilli’s volley. Inter then missed a gilt-edged chance after 20 minutes when Henrikh Mkhitaryan shot straight at the goalkeeper, Pietro Terracciano, with the follow-up overhead kick hitting the side-netting.

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Romelu Lukaku could have put Inter ahead four minutes into the second half but the Belgian failed to tap in a cross from six yards. Fiorentina’s Giacomo Bonaventura was then in the right place after a rebound from a corner and headed the ball into the net from close range to give his side the lead after 53 minutes.

Inter squandered a chance to draw level six minutes later, with Nicolò Barella’s powerful half-volley from the edge of the box hitting the bar. They remain third with 50 points, with fourth-placed Milan only two points behind and with a game in hand – but that is away at Napoli today.

Nicolò Barella goes close for Internazionale against Fiorentina.
Nicolò Barella goes close for Internazionale against Fiorentina. Photograph: Matteo Bazzi/EPA

Juventus needed a goal by Moise Kean to seal a 1-0 home win over Hellas Verona on Saturday and stay in the hunt for a top-six finish and a place in Europe. Victory left Massimiliano Allegri’s side in seventh place with 44 points, three behind sixth-placed AS Roma, who will be in action on Sunday.

Kean sent Juve ahead 10 minutes into the second half, controlling a through ball from Manuel Locatelli inside the box and slamming it into the bottom corner. The visitors tried to create pressure but struggled to break through Juve’s tight defence and eventually ran out of steam. Verona are in 18th place and five points adrift of the safety zone.

In the day’s early game, Atalanta went fifth overnight with a 3-1 win at bottom-placed Cremonese. Atalanta are now only two points behind Inter.

In La Liga, Robert Lewandowski scored twice as leaders Barcelona won 4-0 at bottom side Elche on Saturday to go 15 points clear of second-placed Real Madrid.

Robert Lewandowski (right) celebrates with Gavi after scoring Barça’s first goal against Elche.
Robert Lewandowski (right) celebrates with Gavi after scoring Barça’s first goal against Elche. Photograph: Aitor Alcalde Colomer/Getty Images

La Liga’s top scorer Lewandowski was back on song after three goalless league games, opening the scoring in the 20th minute with a close-range finish after Ronald Araújo headed the ball down to him in front of goal.

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Ansu Fati doubled the lead in the 55th minute after picking up a Ferran Torres pass in his own half and breaking forward towards the edge of the box before firing low into the far corner of the goal.

Barcelona’s trademark high pressing paid off in the 65th minute when Gavi stole the ball off the Elche defence to set up Lewandowski in the box, who had no trouble scoring his second of the night and 17th league goal of the season.

Torres got on the scoresheet in the 70th minute, slotting his shot into the corner for his third league goal of the campaign. Barcelona will faceReal Madrid for the fourth time in 2023 on Wednesday in the second leg of their Copa del Rey semi-final, with the Catalan side holding a 1-0 lead.

In Germany, most attention was on Der Klassiker, with Bayern Munich beating Borussia Dortmund 4-2 in Thomas Tuchel’s first game in charge of the Bavarian side, who went top as a result. But Union Berlin struck three times in 17 minutes in the second half to cruise to a 3-0 victory over struggling VfB Stuttgart, tightening their grip on third spot and staying in the mix for the Bundesliga title.

The sensational Berliners, who are enjoying their best season, scored on the break with Sheraldo Becker’s eighth league goal of the campaign six minutes after the restart. Kevin Behrens then doubled their advantage from close range in the 65th. His effort was initially overruled by VAR but that decision was subsequently corrected and the goal stood.

Only three minutes later Behrens broke clear down the right wing and whipped the ball into the box only for the Stuttgart midfielder Genki Haraguchi to slide in and send it into his own goal as he tried to clear it.

Union are on 51 points, four behind Bayern and two behind Borussia Dortmund.

source: theguardian.com