Dynamic duo: Icardi and Perisic keep Inter perfect in Italy
ROME (AP) The dynamic duo of Mauro Icardi and Ivan Perisic are proving unstoppable in Serie A and Inter Milan is quickly moving on from last season’s failures and upheaval.
Icardi scored his fifth goal in three matches and Perisic added another as Inter beat Serie B champion Spal 2-0 Sunday to extend its perfect start in the Italian league.
Each of Inter’s eight goals this season have involved either Icardi or Perisic, with goals or assists.
Video replays were used to set up Icardi’s first-half penalty and Perisic sealed the result three minutes from time.
Inter drew level on points with six-time defending champion Juventus, which defeated Chievo Verona 3-0 on Saturday.
Napoli also has a maximum nine points following a 3-0 win at Bologna.
Jose Callejon headed Napoli in front from a long cross by Lorenzo Insigne midway through the second half. Dries Mertens and Piotr Zielinski added late goals for the visitors.
Big-spending AC Milan dropped its first points in a 4-1 loss at Lazio, which got a hat trick from Ciro Immobile.
Including Roberto Mancini’s surprise resignation two weeks before the season began, Inter struggled through four managerial changes in the 2016-17 campaign and finished seventh to miss out on European competition.
But order appears to have been restored with the appointment of former Roma coach Luciano Spalletti in June.
”There are three big points, especially since Inter struggled against the smaller clubs last season,” said assistant coach Marco Domenichini, who handled the post-match interviews because Spalletti lost his voice during the game.
”It’s great to have nine points but we’ve still got to improve, especially in terms of ball control,” Domenichini added.
Leonardo Semplici, the coach of Ferrara-based Spal, believes Inter will challenge Juventus and Napoli.
”They’ve got a really good and experienced manager. They’re going to battle until the end for the title,” Semplici said.
At the San Siro, Inter was in control from the start and Icardi used a quick touch to set up Joao Mario at the edge of the area when the Portuguese international was tripped by a defender.
The referee immediately pulled out a yellow card for the defender, Francesco Vicari, and then a five-minute delay ensued as the referee sought video assistance to determine if the foul occurred inside or outside the area.
Eventually, the penalty was awarded and Icardi calmly slotted his spot kick in the left side of the goal as the `keeper went the other way.
It was Icardi’s 77th goal in Serie A for Inter, placing him joint 10th on the club’s all-time list with Attilio Demaria.
After Inter’s Milan Skriniar hit the crossbar, Perisic volleyed in a cross from Danilo D’Ambrosio for his second score of the season to go along with his four assists.
Fresh off his goal for Italy in a 1-0 win over Israel in World Cup qualifying, Lazio striker Immobile was in full control at the Stadio Olimpico against remodeled Milan, which spent more than 200 million euros (nearly $250 million) in the transfer market.
Late in the first half, Immobile converted a penalty and then scored again with an acrobatic volley.
After the break, Immobile slotted inside the near post following an expert setup from Marco Parolo then provided the assist when Luis Alberto finished off a swift counterattack.
Riccardo Montolivo pulled one back for Milan in a match in which kickoff was delayed for an hour due to severe rain.
FIVE FOR FIORENTINA
After scoring only one goal in its opening two matches – both losses – Fiorentina routed promoted Hellas Verona 5-0.
Giovanni Simeone, Cyril Thereau, Davide Astori, Jordan Veretout and Gil Dias scored for the Tuscan club, which has had to overcome the sale of nearly all of its most prized players.
Fiorentina sold Nikola Kalinic to Milan, Borja Valero and Matias Vecino to Inter Milan and Federico Bernardeschi to Juventus.
Verona had never lost by four or more goals at home in Serie A.
Also, Torino defeated Benevento 1-0 with a late goal from Iago Falque; Atalanta beat Sassuolo 2-1; Cagliari celebrated the opening of its new stadium, the Sardegna Arena, with a 1-0 victory over Crotone; and Udinese defeated Genoa 1-0 as both teams finished with 10 men.
More AP Serie A coverage: https://apnews.com/tag/SerieA
Andrew Dampf on Twitter: www.twitter.com/asdampf