Martinez fires Inter past Cremonese and into second, Atalanta in top four

Lautaro Martinez shot Inter Milan into second place in Serie A with both goals in Saturday’s 2-1 win at winless Cremonese, while Atalanta cruised past Sampdoria 2-0 and into the Champions League spots.

Argentina striker Martinez made sure Inter bounced back from losing to Empoli last Sunday and David Okereke’s 11th-minute wonder strike with goals in each half at the Stadio Giovanni Zini in Cremona.

The 25-year-old took his league tally for the season to 11 and moved Inter two points above fourth-placed Atalanta and champions AC Milan, who host Sassuolo in Sunday’s opening match before the Milan derby next weekend.

Simone Inzaghi’s side, who were without suspended stars Milan Skriniar and Nicolo Barella and injured Marcelo Brozovic, are still 10 points behind runaway league leaders Napoli ahead of Sunday night’s clash with fierce rivals Roma in Naples.

“Today we needed to take three points back to Milan and we did that,” Martinez told DAZN.

“I want as many as I can get, and if I do that it means I’m helping the team.

“We can only look at what we need to do because we’ve lost a lot of points and we need to claw some back, not look above us because 13 points was a big gap.”

Both Martinez’s strikes came following great work from Edin Dzeko, Inter drawing level in the 21st minute when Martinez pounced to net after the Bosnia forward’s fine first-time strike was pushed out by Marco Carnesecchi.

And it was Dzeko’s neat pass to Martinez in the 65th minute which allowed his strike partner to move to within two goals of leading scorer Victor Osimhen and secure a deserved three points.

Cremonese remain rooted at the bottom of Serie A after failing to win any of their 20 matches in their first season in Italy’s top flight since 1996.

The all-time record of matches without a win from the start of a season is 28, set by Varese in 1971/72 and Ancona in 2003/04.

Davide Ballardini took charge earlier this month in an attempt to avoid relegation back to Serie B, but the veteran coach has his work cut out despite another spirited display from his team.

Cremonese have lost 12 times this term and are nine points from safety with two of the four teams within closest reach yet to play this weekend.
“We’re a competitive team,” insisted Ballardini.

“When we manage to obtain results that match our performances we’ll be happy.”

– Lookman strikes again –

One point above Cremonese are Sampdoria who were comfortably dealt with by Atalanta thanks in part to yet another goal from red-hot Ademola Lookman.

Nigeria forward Lookman took his total in his debut Serie A season to 12 when doubling the hosts’ lead in the 57th minute in Bergamo, nutmegging Nicola Murru before spending towards goal and rifling home a low strike.

Lookman is in the most prolific period of his career and has scored seven times in league and cup in January.

“I’ve put more focus into the things that are more important, it’s working for me,” said Lookman to DAZN when asked why he had suddenly starting scoring so frequently.

“Different circumstances, different situations… I’m in a good moment, scoring goals, helping the team, it’s just the way it is.”

Joakim Maehle headed Atalanta into the lead shortly before the break after Lookman had hit the post, putting Gian Piero Gasperini’s side on the way to a win which puts them fourth, level on 38 points with Milan who maintain third place by virtue of having a game in hand.

Earlier, Torino came back from two goals down to draw 2-2 at Empoli thanks to late strikes from Samuele Ricci and Antonio Sanabria.

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