Inter Milan stopped their poor run of form in the best possible way by defeating rival Juventus 1-0 to increase their chances of a Serie A title and hamper their opponent’s own hopes on Sunday.
Hakan Calhanoglu converted a penalty in the second half by asking in the stoppage time of the first half. Defending champions Inter moved within three points of leaders AC Milan and Naples, who had previously won 3-1 at Atalanta.
Inter, who have played one game less than most of their title rivals, had won just one of their previous seven league games.
“It’s a fundamental step because we’re currently chasing the others and we want to stay up there with Milan and Naples,” said Inter-coach Simone Inzaghi.
“We lost points, we know that, and we want to try to get them back in the eight remaining games.”
Juventus hit the woodwork twice and had 23 shots compared to just five for Inter in one of the Bianconeri’s best matches of the season, but it remained fourth and slipped four points below Inter.
“It was a good performance from Juventus, we are improving and I am happy,” said Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri. “But in the end we can say that Juve are definitely out of the title race.
“We have to try to get as many points as possible to keep fourth place and get to the starting blocks next year, ready to try to win the title.”
AC Milan host Bologna on Monday.
The Derby d’Italia has always been hotly contested, but this time Juventus knew it could move above Inter in what has become an exciting title race.
Juventus were unbeaten in 16 consecutive league games and started cheerfully in Turin, with three early chances to take the lead, including Giorgio Chiellini hitting the bottom of the crossbar.
However, it was Inter who broke the deadline on the battle of rest after Juventus striker Alvaro Morata Denzel Dumfries fell just inside the area. Referee Massimiliano Irrati awarded the penalty after watching the incident on the field monitor.
Calhanoglu’s first attempt was saved by Wojciech Szczesny, but – after another VAR check – he was ordered to take back due to a foul and the Inter striker buried his second chance in the left bottom corner.
Juventus again had the better chances in the second half, but it was denied by idiosyncratic finish and good saves by Inter goalkeeper Samir Handanovic, who also tipped a try from Denis Zakaria on the post.
Lorenzo Insigne scored one and set up another to help Napoli level with Milan at the top of the table.
Insigne, who left Napoli at the end of the season after 15 years to join Toronto FC in Major League Soccer, converted a penalty and provided the assist for a Matteo Politano volley to give them a comfortable lead.
Marten de Roon got Atalanta back in the game in the 58th minute, but Eljif Elmas sealed the result nine minutes before time after a quick counter-attack when the hosts besieged Napoli’s goal.
Napoli is under Milan on head-to-head record.
Atalanta’s hopes of qualifying for the Champions League for a fourth consecutive season all seem to be over, as it was eight points behind Juventus.
Jose Mourinho’s Roma moved to within five points of the top four after winning the wrestling match between Sampdoria 1-0.
Beto grabbed a hat-trick to help Udinese recover to defeat Cagliari 5-1 in a relegation battle.
Udinese moved 11 points above the relegation zone. Cagliari, whose midfielder Alberto Grassi was sent off, remained three points above the drop.
Fiorentina beat 10-man Empoli 1-0, with Nicolas Gonzalez heading a free kick seconds after Sebastiano Luperto was sent off for a second yellow card.