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Inter crush Udinese to keep Champions League push alive

News 06 May 2018, 21:45 IST
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Milan, May 6 (AFP) Inter Milan crushed ten-man Udinese 4-0 today to assure fifth place in Serie A and seal at least Europa League action next season while keeping their Champions League challenge alive.

Inter have 69 points with two games left and cannot be caught by AC Milan who are nine points behind or Atalanta, who have 58 points before playing fourth-place Lazio on Sunday.

AS Roma and Lazio are third and four respectively one point ahead of Inter before both play later today.

"We're still convinced that we can get to the Champions League, but I guess Rome and Lazio would say the same thing," said Inter coach Luciano Spalletti.

"The team have grown, but we must continue to do so in the last two games."

Spalletti was asked whether Inter could do without Icardi -- who has scored 28 goals this season -- amid reports the Argentine will exit the club if they fail to secure Champions League football.

"It depends on who is replacing him. He is a top player, an exceptional finisher who has an eye for goal and knows where the ball is going," said Spalletti.

"He might be able to do more when it comes to taking part in the build-up, but already this year he has improved on that. In any case, he's deadly in the penalty area."

Inter put last week's last-gasp 3-2 defeat to Juventus behind them, sealing victory with first half goals from Andrea Ranocchia, Rafinha and captain Mauro Icardi.

Udinese battled for top-flight survival took a knock as they played the final 40 minutes a man down after Seko Fofana was shown red.

Ranocchia headed in off a corner after 12 minutes for Luciano Spalletti's side with Rafinha getting his first Serie A goal just before the break.

Argentine Icardi added a third minutes later to move just one goal short of Lazio's injured top Serie A scorer Ciro Immobile.

But Udinese's game was effectively dealt a killer blow five minutes after the break when Fofana was sent off after stamping on Ivan Perisic's ankle with the foul confirmed by video assistant referee.

Borja Valero added a fourth goal with a minute to go with substitute Yann Karamoh missing a chance for a fifth.

Udinese remain three points above the relegation zone.

Second-placed Napoli, meanwhile, travel to Torino later Sunday in a game which could decide the championship.

Juventus closed in on a seventh successive title on Saturday by recovering from a goal down to beat Bologna 3-1.

If Napoli lose in Torino, Juventus will claim the title as they have a seven-point lead with two games left.

A Napoli draw would delay Juventus being crowned champions but with a six-point lead and a superior goal difference the Turin side would effectively be champions in all but name

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