Wed, Jan 08, 2020 - Page 16 News List

Inter stay on top; Ronaldo has first Serie A hat-trick

AFP, MILAN, Italy

Juventus forward Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates after scoring in their Serie A match against Cagliari at the Allianz Stadium in Turin, Italy, on Monday.

Photo: AFP

Romelu Lukaku on Monday scored twice, as Inter held on to the top spot in Serie A with a 3-1 win over SSC Napoli to keep the pressure on Juventus, who earlier swept past Cagliari with Cristiano Ronaldo netting his first hat-trick in the Italian top flight.

Antonio Conte’s Inter ended their 23-year wait for a league win in Naples to stay in the pole position — level on points with Juventus after 18 games, but ahead on goal-difference.

“It’s an important victory, winning away to Napoli is never easy,” Conte said after his 100th Serie A win as a coach, but first in Naples. “Napoli have in recent years always been behind Juventus, while Inter was a long way back. This year we have reduced the gap.”

Inter’s three goals all came from mistakes by Napoli, who were runners-up the past two seasons, but only eighth this term.

Lukaku broke through on 14 minutes with a powerful solo run through the Napoli defense, with goalie Alex Meret fumbling the second effort into the goal in the 33rd minute.

Polish striker Arkadiusz Milik pulled a goal back for Napoli four minutes before the break.

However, Lautaro Martinez added the third goal after the hour mark, following another mix-up in the Napoli defense, to give Inter their first win at the Stadio San Paolo since October 1997.

“We made lots of mistakes and scored three goals on ourselves,” Napoli coach Gennaro Gattuso said. “The lads are worried, because they are used to challenging for the Scudetto and this year it’s like this.”

In Turin, Ronaldo struck for the fifth consecutive league game, as the champions bounced back from their Italian Super Cup defeat by Lazio.

“Amazing feeling to kick off 2020 with a hat-trick and a victory,” tweeted Ronaldo, who brought his league tally to 13 goals.

Ronaldo, 34, broke the deadlock just after the interval.

The Portuguese striker added a second from the penalty spot on 67 minutes, then set up substitute Gonzalo Higuain nine minutes from time, before completing his hat-trick a minute later.

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