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Inter overcome Udinese to stay on heels of leaders Milan

Inter still have a say in this season’s Serie A title race after winning 2-1 at Udinese on Sunday to stay two points behind league leaders Milan.

Ivan Perisic and Lautaro Martinez made sure that the champions bounced back from Wednesday’s traumatic defeat at Bologna and stayed on the heels of Milan who earlier were fired to a 1-0 win over Fiorentina by Rafael Leao.

Milan need seven points from their final three games to snatch the Scudetto from their local rivals as they have the better of the two league derbies with Inter, meaning the seven-time European champions would stay ahead of Inter should they end up locked on the same points.

“No, no, we just need to do our jobs. Now we need to move on to the next match and win,” sad Martinez after being asked if Inter were feeling the pressure.

“We’re all here for the same objective. We need to win our matches and hope that they drop points.”

Sunday’s match was the toughest left in Inter’s run-in, while Milan have to play Verona and Atalanta in their bid to secure the crown.

And Simone Inzaghi’s side dealt well with a tricky team who had rattled in 17 goals in their six games in April, taking the lead in the 12th minute through Perisic’s header and doubling their advantage seven minutes before half-time.

After Martinez was denied, Edin Dzeko made the most of contact from Pablo Mari’s lunging tackle and earned his team a penalty, which was smashed against the post by Martinez before the Argentine nodded in the rebound via a deflection off goalkeeper Marco Silvestre’s arm.

Ignacio Pussetto pulled one back for the hosts after Gerard Deulofeu’s free-kick was well saved by Samir Handanovic, but Inter held on to claim the points.

– Leao keeps Milan top –

Portugal forward Leao struck with eight minutes remaining against Fiorentina to ensure Milan are still favourites for a first Scudetto since 2011.

“It’s the best moment of my career as a player,” Leao told DAZN after his 10th league goal of the season, which unleashed a wave of relief at a packed San Siro.

Until Leao scored it had looked to be a frustrating day for the hosts, Olivier Giroud missing the first of a series of good chances with 15 minutes on the clock when he somehow fluffed his dinked finish wide after being slipped perfectly through by Franck Kessie.

Nerves started to get to the home fans after a series of misplaced passes in good positions curtailed promising attacks, and the huge crowd had their heads in their hands two minutes after the break when Leao smashed over from close range after being fed by Giroud.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic was introduced in the 65th minute in an attempt to force the winner, and after Mike Maignan saved Arthur Cabral’s 76th-minute header Leao made it party time.

He collected Viola goalkeeper Pietro Terracciano’s awful kick, charged towards goal and slotted home a finish which could be crucial to an enthralling title race.

– Juve in Champions League –

Leonardo Bonucci put Juve in next season’s Champions League with a double in their 2-1 win over Venezia which also dealt a huge blow to the survival hopes of Serie A’s bottom team.

Italy defender Bonucci struck in each half at the Allianz Stadium to put Juve 10 points clear of fifth-placed Roma, who drew a largely drab match with Bologna 0-0 ahead of the second leg of their Europa Conference League semi-final with Leicester City on Thursday.

“We needed the win to make sure that the last three games aren’t too difficult,” said Bonucci to Sky Sport Italia.

Venezia are six points behind Cagliari, who sit just outside the relegation zone, 

They have a game in hand on Thursday at in-form Salernitana, who are making a bold bid to retain their place in Serie A off the back of three straight wins and are at Atalanta on Monday.

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