Cagliari 1 Inter 3: Icardi scores brace to send Nerazzurri top

Inter have gone top of Serie A as two goals from Mauro Icardi and a Marcelo Brozovic strike helped them to a 3-1 win over Cagliari at the Sardegna Arena.

It might only be a fleeting stop at the summit, however, as dethroned Napoli will have the chance to reclaim top spot when they travel to Udinese on Sunday.

The visitors were comfortably second best for the opening period, but the prolific Icardi scored his 14th league goal of the season from close range just before the half hour to give them an undeserved lead.

Matias Vecino was withdrawn through injury after 52 minutes, but just three minutes later his replacement Brozovic sent a fine strike into the bottom corner to double Inter's lead.

Leonardo Pavoletti cushioned home a fine volley in the 71st minute to give the hosts hope of securing an unlikely draw.

But Icardi scored his second of the game in the 83rd minute to quash any chances of a dramatic comeback and maintain the Nerazzurri's unbeaten start to the season. 

Cagliari started at a blistering pace and should have been ahead inside the opening five minutes. Captain Joao Pedro did brilliantly to pull down a cross inside the penalty area, but after spinning away from his marker he was only able to hook his close-range effort straight at Samir Handanovic.

The Slovenian goalkeeper was called into action again 10 minutes later, this time producing a miraculous point-blank save at the back post to keep out Pavoletti's volley from a deep cross.

The hosts continued to look menacing going forward, but Inter took the lead entirely against the run of play in the 29th minute.

Antonio Candreva's whipped cross from the right was met by Ivan Perisic at the back post and the stretching Croatian was able to hook the ball across goal for Icardi to stab home from six yards.

He could - and perhaps should - have scored a second moments later, but he just failed to make enough contact with another teasing cross from the right, which had fizzed past Cagliari goalkeeper Rafael.

Davide Santon then flashed a long-range shot past the post as Inter finished the half in dominant mood.

Cagliari started the second period with the same verve that had characterised their display in the opening half hour, with Nicolo Barella's drive from distance deflected just past Handanovic's post.

Inter thought they had put the game to bed in the 55th minute when Brozovic met Candreva's pull back to lash home from just inside the penalty area for his third league goal of the season. 

The hosts gave themselves a lifeline with 20 minutes remaining as Pavoletti made up for his first-half miss with a superbly taken volley from Paolo Farago's cross that left Handanovic with no chance. 

An 11th win out of 14 league games was sealed with seven minutes remaining, though, as Icardi took full advantage of some insipid goalkeeping from Rafael to thrash home from close range.

Read Full Story

FROM OUR PARTNERS