Inter go five points clear after Frattesi late show

Inter Milan’s Argentine forward #10 Lautaro Martinez (R) fights for the ball with Hellas Verona’s Belgian forward #38 Jackson Tchatchoua during the Italian Serie A football match between Inter Milan and Hellas Verona at the Giuseppe-Meazza (San Siro) Stadium in Milan on January 6, 2024. AFP

Davide Frattesi put Inter Milan five points clear at the top of Serie A on Saturday with a last-gasp winner which gave his team a thrilling, and controversial, 2-1 victory over Verona.

Italy midfielder Frattesi rammed home the decisive strike on the rebound in the third minute of stoppage time of an incredible match at the San Siro which was full of late drama.

Simone Inzaghi’s side were fortunate not to throw away the win when Thomas Henry, who earlier had netted Verona’s equaliser, thumped a penalty off the post in the 10th minute of stoppage time.

A huge roar engulfed the stadium as Inter will be alone at the top of the table at the halfway mark of the season, with closest challengers Juventus at Salernitana on Sunday.

“It was a good shot and I followed the ball, I threw myself onto it and I was lucky it came to me,” said Frattesi to DAZN.

“The most important wins are the ugly ones, these are the ones which help you challenge right to the end.”

The wild celebrations in the stands came after a match which initially had looked like being straightforward for Inter after Lautaro Martinez poked home his 16th goal of the season in the 13th minute.

But that all changed once Henry pulled the away side level in the 74th minute from Ondrej Duda’s cross, as Inter frantically tried to snatch a win.

Frattesi did just that after Lorenzo Montipo spilled Nicolo Barella’s shot, the end of a wild passage of play in which Alessandro Bastoni also volleyed a stunning strike off the bar.

However Verona were livid that Frattesi’s goal was not chalked off as Bastoni elbowed Duda in the face just before he fired off his volley which eventually led to the winner.

VAR controversy

Verona’s sporting director Sean Sogliano said that his team, who have serious financial problems and sit just inside the relegation zone, “were disrespected” by the VAR officials.

“It’s incredible that Inter’s winner wasn’t ruled out by VAR, it obviously shouldn’t have stood. Errors like that just shouldn’t happen,” Sogliano said.

The VAR officials did give Verona the chance to snatch what would have been an incredible point when they instructed referee Michael Fabbri to look at Matteo Darmian’s foul on Giangiacomo Magnani.

But Henry couldn’t deliver from the penalty spot and his team will have a huge battle to stay in Serie A, with a host of players set to leave in the January transfer window.

Fiorentina fell to a 1-0 defeat at Sassuolo who snapped a six-match winless run in all competitions thanks to Andrea Pinamonti’s ninth-minute strike.

Vincenzo Italiano’s Fiorentina stay in the Champions League positions, one point ahead of fifth-placed Bologna who snatched a late draw at Genoa on Friday night.

But they were unlucky to not get more from the Mapei Stadium as Andrea Consigli saved Giacomo Bonaventura’s 64th-minute penalty and soon after Lucas Martinez-Quarta had a leveller ruled out for M’Bala Nzola straying offside.

Sassuolo move up to 14th, five points ahead of Verona thanks to the win, ahead on goal difference from Frosinone who lost 3-2 an entertaining home clash with Monza.

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