MILAN (AP) – Inter’s crowning hopes were bolstered on Saturday, with a victory of their own and results for Milan and Juventus losing points.
Romelu Lukaku put Inter on the path to victory 1-0 at the Bologna court, at the end of a crazy day in which all the Serie A matches were played.
Milan resigned themselves to a 1-1 draw against 10-man Sampdoria, and Juve drew 2-2 against Torino in the derby.
Inter was eight points ahead of Milan, who have played one more match than their backyard rival. Atalanta climbed to the third rung, while Juventus fell to the fourth. All matches were held on the same day, as is traditionally the case in Italy, where there is no football on Easter Sunday.
“There were no celebrations like a title afterwards, because first we need to win this mathematically,” explained Inter coach Antonio Conte. “Of course, we are looking down on others, but there is still a long way to go.”
Inter’s previous meeting was postponed due to a coronavirus outbreak, but captain Samir Handanovic has recovered, as has Stefan de Vrij.
The Nerazzurri took the lead in the 32nd minute, with their first dangerous approach. Lukaku headed in and goalkeeper Nikola Ravaglia managed to deflect the ball towards a post.
But the Belgian found the rebound and simply pushed the ball into the nets.
“We took a big step and we need to continue like this,” Lukaku said. “This is a great moment for me. I made the right decision by coming here. I will do everything I can to help the team because I am nobody without my teammates ”.
Milan’s aspirations took a new setback.
Jens Petter Hauge rescued a point for Milan three minutes before the end, and the hosts had a chance to take all three points, but Franck Kessie’s shot bounced off a post.
Fabio Quagliarella opened the scoring in the 57th after a horrendous mistake by Milan, but two minutes later Sampdoria was sent off by their midfielder Adrien Silva.
Sampdoria went on the offensive, and Milanese goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma had several good saves. But there was nothing he could do when Quagliarella intercepted a bad pass from Theo Hernandez and kicked the goal over Donnarumma’s head.
Soon after, Sampdoria’s good work was hurt by the expulsion of Silva, who had already seen the yellow card and received the second after an intentional clash with Samu Castillejo.
Milan had trouble creating scoring opportunities. He finally managed to tie when Hauge finished low to the right post after a pass from Kessié.
In injury time, Kessié received a pass from Zlatan Ibrahimović, but his shot crashed into the left post.
Cristiano Ronaldo saved a point for Juventus, at a time when the pressure on coach Andrea Pirlo mounted.
Juve were eliminated by Porto in the Champions League and fell surprisingly to Benevento before last week’s break for the FIFA Date.
“Unfortunately, we keep getting complicated,” Pirlo said. “We suffer these deconcentrations very frequently. We must improve”.
Juventus plays its postponed match with Napoli on Wednesday. Both sets have the same crop of points.
Colombian Luis Muriel scored a double in the first half and Atalanta beat Udinese 3-2. His compatriot Duván Zapata, did the same for the Bergamo team, in the 71st minute.
Atalanta is third, two points behind Milan. It is two units above Juventus and Napoli.
The Neapolitan squad suffered more than expected but beat bottom Crotone 4-3.
Lazio is four points behind fourth place, which gives the last passage to the Champions League, after beating local Spezia 2-1. Manuel Lazzari and the Argentine Joaquín Correa, from the Roman team, were expelled in the discounts.
Roma fell to the seventh step, with a 2-2 draw at the home of Sassuolo.
A Cagliari threatened by relegation was beaten 2-0 at home by Hellas Verona. Benevento drew 2-2 against Parma and Fiorentina drew 1-1 in the fiefdom of Genoa.