ROME, Italy ● Inter Milan left Napoli’s Serie A title hopes hanging by a thread on Saturday after a 2-0 home victory, with a controversial opener from Mauro Icardi and Marcelo Brozovic’s excellent chipped effort.
Second-placed Napoli remain on 70 points, six behind leaders Juventus, who can take a big step towards a record fifth consecutive Serie A title when they host relegation-threatened Palermo on Sunday.
Inter boosted their hopes of securing Italy’s final Champions League berth by moving up to 61 points with five games remaining, three behind third-placed Roma who travel to Atalanta in Sunday’s early kick-off.
Inter took only four minutes to open the scoring through Icardi, who continued his recent hot streak with his 15th league goal of the season and seventh in his last 10 outings.
The Argentine forward appeared to be in an offside position, but the flag stayed down as he controlled a high ball exquisitely before lobbing the isolated Pepe Reina.
Napoli, missing suspended top scorer Gonzalo Higuain, lacked the offensive conviction of their hosts but went close in the 30th minute when Allan’s long-range effort was tipped away by the outstanding Samir Handanovic.
Inter doubled their lead in the 44th minute when Stevan Jovetic picked out Icardi with a delightful pass over the top and the Inter skipper found Brozovic, who calmly lifted the ball over Reina.
Napoli introduced Dries Mertens early in the second half, and moments later the Belgian forward sent a volley wide, but it was Roberto Mancini’s side who went closest in the second period when a lofted effort from Jovetic forced Kalidou Koulibaly into a clearance off the line.
Tenth-placed Torino won 1-0 at Bologna thanks to Andrea Belotti’s 93rd-minute penalty, while Carpi boosted their hopes of staying up with a 4-1 home win over 10-man Genoa.
Leonardo Pavoletti opened the scoring for the visitors, but Armando Izzo’s 45th-minute dismissal for two yellow cards changed the complexion of the match.
Lorenzo Pasciuti and Antonio Di Gaudio gave Carpi control with two goals in first-half stoppage time, before Lorenzo Lollo and Stefano Sabelli added further efforts after the break.
The win takes Carpi up to 17th place on 31 points, three ahead of Palermo.