MILAN: Nicolo Barella sealed a 2-1 win over Verona to send Inter Milan top of Serie A on Saturday as Napoli were jeered by their fans after being held to a goalless draw at home by Genoa.
Former Cagliari midfielder Barella scored his first goal for Inter with a stunning curling strike seven minutes from time, allowing Inter to overtake defending champions Juventus.
Inter sit two points ahead of Juve, who host 13th-placed AC Milan in Turin on Sunday.
But Serie A runners-up Napoli saw their winless league run extended to four games, and are stuck in seventh position, 12 points behind Inter.
Napoli fans were furious with the point against their northern rivals who are 17th in the league, days after the team’s Champions League last 16 progress was stalled with a 1-1 draw against Salzburg.
Inter coach Antonio Conte had also been furious after his side threw away a two-goal lead to fall to a 3-2 Champions League defeat at Borussia Dortmund in midweek.
But the former Juventus and Chelsea boss was happy with the way his team hit back.
“I saw an important response after Dortmund,” said Conte. “The lads are doing something important – 31 points in 12 games is a nice haul.
“Now there is a (international) break and we’re going to rest after a victory that gives us enthusiasm and the knowledge that we’re on the right path.”
Inter had got off to the worst possible start when Valerio Verre put Verona ahead from the spot on 19 minutes after Inter goalkeeper Samir Handanovic tripped Mattia Zaccagni.
Goalkeeper Marco Silvestri and the Verona defence held off Inter at the San Siro before Matias Vecino broke through, heading home a Valentino Lazaro cross on 65 minutes.
Barella completed the comeback late on, whipping off his jersey as he celebrated wildly with his teammates.
It was his second goal since joining Inter last summer having scored the equaliser in a 1-1 Champions League draw with Slavia Prague.
“We wanted to win at all costs, despite the fatigue from the recent matches,” said Barella.
“Now it’s time for the national team and I’m already focused on that,” he added of Italy’s upcoming Euro 2020 qualifiers.
In Turin, Andrea Belotti converted a pair of penalties with Alex Berenguer bagging a brace of his own to get Torino back to winning ways with a 4-0 romp over 10-man Brescia.
Torino snapped their six-match winless run and inflicted a first defeat on new Brescia coach Fabio Grosso, whose side are second from bottom in the Serie A table.
Belotti got Torino off the mark on 17 minutes with a penalty awarded after a Simone Verdi free-kick bounced off Brescia defender Andrea Cistana’s arm.
The second came on 26 minutes when Czech defender Ales Mateju was also deemed to have used his arm to block a Belotti shot after a VAR review.
Belotti again slotted in to bring his tally to seven Serie A goals this season.
Brescia were reduced to 10 men before the break when Mateju was sent off for a second yellow card after fouling Belotti.
A man down, Grosso substituted Brescia striker Mario Balotelli for defender Bruno Martella after the break.
Jesse Joronen denied Belotti a hat-trick before Berenguer fired past the Finnish keeper with 15 minutes remaining.
And five minutes later, Berenguer latched onto Diego Laxalt’s long ball forward to slot in his second goal this season.
Brescia, with a game in hand, fell to their fourth consecutive defeat with their winless run now stretching back seven games.
Torino’s first win since September 26 puts them 11th. - AFP