Inter Milan staged an impressive second-half revival to beat Torino 3-1 and move up to second place in Serie A on Monday as they bounced back after letting victory slip from their grasp in their two previous games.
Inter moved on to 68 points, ahead of Lazio on goal difference as the sides are level on their head-to-head records. They are eight points behind Juventus with six games to play.
Andrea Belotti pounced on a mistake by Inter goalkeeper Samir Handanovic to give Torino the lead in the 17th minute but Ashley Young, Diego Godin and Lautaro Martinez replied in a 13-minute spell after the break.
Inter were dismal in the first period and the transformation after the break suggested they had been subjected to one of coach Antonio Conte’s famous roastings at halftime.
“It was a very good performance with over 60% possession, 20 shots on goal, nine corners to two,” said Conte. “The lads did well. That goal could have made us nervous but they stayed on their feet and kept playing and finding the goal.”
Having squandered the lead in a 2-1 home defeat by Bologna and again in a 2-2 draw at Verona on Thursday, Inter were in more trouble following a rare Handanovic mistake.
The Slovenian keeper went up to catch a corner at the far post under no real pressure but dropped the ball at the feet of Belotti and the striker known as the Rooster gratefully tapped it into a empty net to score for the sixth league game in a row.
Torino nearly had a second goal but this time Handanovic did well to stop an awkward Cristian Ansaldi shot at the foot of the near post.
Young began the revival four minutes after halftime, volleying past Salvatore Sirigu after the ball was headed down by Martinez.
Two minutes later, Young chipped the ball into the area and Alexis Sanchez nodded the ball into the path of Godin who scored with a header off the underside of the crossbar for his first Serie A goal.
The third followed just after the hour with Sanchez again involved as he won possession in midfield, burst forward and laid the ball off to Martinez whose shot was deflected over Sirigu for his 13th goal of the season.
Belotti then headed against the bar for Torino but Inter also had several good chances to add to their score.
Villarreal out of top four contention, Alaves boost survival hopes
Villarreal’s hopes of finishing in La Liga’s top four ended with a 2-1 defeat at home to Real Sociedad on Monday, meaning Sevilla have qualified for the Champions League.
Sociedad’s Brazilian striker Willian Jose broke the deadlock just after the hour mark before defender Diego Llorente added a second in the 75th minute before Santi Cazorla pulled one back for the hosts late on.
The result left Villarreal fifth in the standings with two games left on 57 points after 36 matches, nine behind Sevilla who won 2-0 at home to Mallorca on Sunday and return to Europe’s elite club competition after a two-year absence.
Sociedad meanwhile boosted their chances of Europa League qualification as they moved up to seventh on 54 points, three ahead of eighth-placed neighbours Athletic Bilbao who are their closest challengers for the final European spot.
Elsewhere, Alaves picked up a valuable point in their bid for survival by drawing 0-0 at home to Getafe.
Getafe looked to have found a late winner through substitute Hugo Duro but the goal was wiped out after a VAR review showed striker Jaime Mata had handled the ball in the build-up.
The draw ended a run of six consecutive defeats for 17th-placed Alaves and took them to 36 points after 36 games, four points clear of the relegation zone. Getafe are sixth on 54.