Inter on leaders’ heels after Venezia win, Zapata sinks troubled Juventus

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Inter Milan midfielder Ivan Perisic (left) heads the ball next to Venezia defender Mattia Caldara during the Italian Serie A football match on Saturday. AFP

Inter Milan moved to within one point of the Serie A summit on Saturday thanks to a 2-0 win over Venezia, while Duvan Zapata piled on the misery for Juventus who are reeling from a probe into their accounts.

Hakan Calhanoglu continued his fine recent form in the 34th minute when he collected the ball and fizzed the opening goal through a crowd of players, and Lautaro Martinez added the second from the penalty spot deep in stoppage time.

Inter have won seven of their last nine matches in all competitions – drawing the other two – and are on a high after ensuring passage to the Champions League last 16 after a decade away midweek.

“The only negative thing was that we should have scored the second goal earlier,” said Inter coach Simone Inzaghi.

“People said this was meant to be a transitional season, one focused on just saving the club, but I found a club that supports me totally and has an extraordinary bunch of lads in the squad.”

It was another composed display from the champions which puts them right on the heels of league leaders Napoli and AC Milan, who are level on 32 points and both play on Sunday.

Inter only had one real scare when Samir Handanovic, who saved Inter with a miracle save in the previous weekend’s win over Napoli, had to be at full stretch to tip over Mattia Aramu’s long-range drive.

Promoted Venezia meanwhile stay six points above the relegation zone in 15th.

Zapata sinks Juve

Atalanta strengthened their hold on fourth place and Serie A’s final Champions League spot thanks to Colombian Zapata’s seventh goal in as many games in all competitions in the 28th minute in Turin.

Atalanta are six points ahead of their closest rivals for fourth spot Roma, who host Torino on Sunday, while Juve sit a further point back in eighth after the latest uninspiring display which led to them being whistled off by furious fans who watched their team lose for the fifth time this league season.

Massimiliano Allegri’s Juve have only scored 18 goals in their 14 league matches, the lowest total in Serie A’s top 10, and rarely looked like pegging back Atalanta until Paulo Dybala clipped a free-kick off the crossbar in stoppage time.

“We need to be realistic. If we’re in this position after 14 matches it means that for now that’s how good we are,” said Allegri.

Juve’s defeat comes after a difficult week in which they were humiliated by European champions Chelsea on Tuesday and then had police search their offices on Friday as part of a probe into suspicious player transfers.

Transfer probe

Juve confirmed late on Saturday that chairman Andrea Agnelli was among the current and former directors under investigation for “false accounting” and “issuance of invoices or other documents for non-existent transactions”.

Prosecutors in Turin had announced on Friday the police search over what Sky Sport Italia report are some €282 million ($319.2 million) of suspect capital gains from transfer deals.

Last month the Italian Football Federation had launched an investigation into the alleged inflating of the value of certain players for accounting purposes, or using player exchanges to help balance the books.

On Saturday news agency ANSA quoted a source from football supervisory commission COVISOC as saying that since autumn last year it has identified dozens of deals that do not just concern Juve – who are listed on the Italian stock exchange.

Earlier Dusan Vlahovic firing his way to the top of the Serie A scoring charts was not enough for Fiorentina as Empoli came from behind late to snatch a 2-1 Tuscan derby win.

Serbia striker Vlahovic slid in his 11th league goal of the season after 56 minutes to move above Italy forward Ciro Immobile but the Viola threw away the win in the final few minutes with Filippo Bandinelli and Andrea Pinamonti netting for the hosts.