Samuel Eto’o scored twice as Inter swatted aside Bologna 4-1 on Saturday to record their fourth successive win under new coach Leonardo and continue their ominous climb up the Serie A table.
The champions surged up to fourth and, with two games in hand, are just five points behind second-placed Napoli, who drew 0-0 with Fiorentina, and eight points adrift of AC Milan.
Dejan Stankovic, thriving in place of the injured Wesley Sneijder in Leonardo’s new 4-3-1-2 formation, made the San Siro breakthrough after 20 minutes when he poked in an Eto’o pass.
“The pitch is not at its best and we made a few errors, but it’s all good,” the Serb said.
Striker Diego Milito, who hit the post with a header early on, netted his first league goal since November after 30 minutes, before setting up Eto’o with a back-heel just past the hour.
Camerooon striker Eto’o then curled in a great free-kick for the fourth, before Henry Gimenez lashed in a consolation.
Inter’s confidence has rocketed since former Milan boss Leonardo replaced Rafa Benitez on Dec. 24, but the Brazilian’s arrival has also coincided with the end of their injury crisis.
Captain Javier Zanetti, 37, was again inspirational in midfield as he equaled Beppe Bergomi’s Inter record of 519 Serie A appearances, helping limit Bologna to just one first-half chance when Luca Castellazzi saved from Marco Di Vaio.
Bologna, whose goalkeeper Emiliano Viviano has been linked with Inter given Julio Cesar’s injury problems, were smarting from having two points deducted in midweek for payment problems.
Napoli, who beat Juventus 3-0 last weekend thanks to Edinson Cavani’s hat-trick, struggled for fluency at home against Fiorentina, with midfielder Marek Hamsik banned and defender Gianluca Grava going off with a potentially serious first-half knee injury.
The Viola have had a disappointing season so far, made worse by striker Adrian Mutu being dropped from the squad after a row, but they bossed the game for long spells.
Walter Mazzarri’s Napoli improved after the break and piled the pressure on at the end, but a winner always looked unlikely in Serie A’s first game of the second half of the season.
‘GREAT EVENING‘: In the women’s singles in Rome, Simona Halep and Karolina Pliskova advanced, while Rafael Nadal swept into the quarters in the men’s singles Taiwan’s Hsieh Su-wei and Barbora Strycova of the Czech Republic on Friday had to dig deep to advance to the semi-finals of the women’s doubles at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome. The top seeds, who did not drop a game in their opening match on the clay courts at the Foro Italico, battled to a 7-6 (7/5), 6-4 victory over sixth seeds Veronika Kudermetova and Katerina Siniakova in 1 hour, 39 minutes. The reigning Wimbledon champions saved nine of 11 break points and converted three of eight, winning 56 percent of points on their second serve and sending down two aces
’SO CONSISTENT’: The victory gave the world No. 1 and world No. 2 a 21-1 win-loss record and their fourth title of the season after successes in Brisbane, Dubai and Doha Taiwan’s Hsieh Su-wei and Barbora Strycova of the Czech Republic on Sunday cruised to their fourth women’s doubles title of the season at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome in their first tournament back since the suspension of the WTA Tour due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The top seeds took just 63 minutes to complete a comprehensive 6-2, 6-2 victory over unseeded German-Romanian duo Anna-Lena Friedsam and Raluca Olaru at the Foro Italico. It was the Taiwanese-Czech pairing’s first outing since they won the Qatar Open in February. “After five months, you don’t know what to expect,” Strycova told the WTA Web site.
‘FUN TIME’: Denver’s Nikola Jokic said that his team would not accept that anyone else is better than them and the opposition need to play much better than they do Just about everyone had LA versus LA written in for the NBA’s Western Conference finals, but the resilient Denver Nuggets have crashed the party. Behind Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic, the Nuggets advanced to the conference finals for the first time since 2009 to face LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers. Game 1 is scheduled to be played tomorrow. This was no ordinary road. The Nuggets fell behind 3-1 in their first-round series against the Utah Jazz before bouncing back with three straight victories. Then they went down 3-1 to the Los Angeles Clippers in the second round before winning in Game 7
‘GREAT COMPETITOR’: Former French Open champion Garbine Muguruza was tested by American teenager Coco Gauff, before the Spaniard advanced in three sets Taiwan’s Hsieh Su-wei and Barbora Strycova of the Czech Republic on Thursday cruised into the quarter-finals of the women’s doubles at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia by handing their Japanese opponents a rare “double bagel,” a feat matched by US Open losing finalist Victoria Azarenka in the women’s singles. Top seeds Hsieh and Strycova took just 49 minutes to see off the challenge of Japanese duo Nao Hibino and Makoto Ninomiya 6-0, 6-0 on the clay courts at the Foro Italico in Rome. The Taiwanese-Czech duo saved both break points they faced and converted six of 14, winning 62 percent of their first