MILAN (AP) Mauro Icardi scored twice as Inter Milan reinforced its title credentials by winning at Cagliari 3-1 to move to the top of Serie A on Saturday.
Icardi and Marcelo Brozovic scored for Inter before Leonardo Pavoletti set up a nervy final 20 minutes for the visitors.
However, Icardi scored late. The Inter captain moved level with Lazio’s Ciro Immobile at the top of the goal-scoring charts, with 15.
Inter moved a point above Napoli, which visits Udinese on Sunday. Cagliari, which tested Samir Handanovic several times, remained 13th.
“We’ll enjoy a night at the top of the league,” Icardi said. “The others should know that we are there, right up with them.
“Not playing in European competition this year allows us to work well during the week and build the basis for doing something important.”
Cagliari dominated the opening half hour and Handanovic pulled off good saves, notably denying Pavoletti from point-blank range.
However, Inter took the lead against the run of play in the 29th minute when Antonio Candreva crossed from the right to Ivan Perisic at the far post and he knocked it back for Icardi to tap in.
Inter’s Matias Vecino limped off early in the second half and was replaced by Brozovic, who scored with his first touch, firing home another Candreva cross from the right.
Cagliari reduced the deficit in the 71st. Paolo Farago swung the ball in from the right for Pavoletti to volley home.
Farago, however, was partly at fault for Inter’s third as he failed to clear the ball and Rafael‘s punch fell straight to Icardi, who rifled it into the bottom left corner.
Sampdoria followed its surprise victory over Juventus by losing to Bologna 3-0 despite Bologna playing the second half with 10 men.
Samp’s third defeat left it in sixth place, six points above Bologna, which moved up to seventh ahead of the rest of the weekend’s fixtures.
Sampdoria beat Juventus 3-2 in the previous round.
Bologna got off to a great start, taking the lead inside three minutes. Sampdoria goalkeeper Emiliano Viviano could only parry Mattia Destro’s effort and Simone Verdi tucked away the rebound.
Ibrahima Mbaye headed in Verdi’s corner in the 23rd and even the loss of defender Vasilis Torosidis to a second yellow card in first-half stoppage time made little difference.
Bologna withstood Sampdoria’s siege in the second half and added a third on the counterattack in the 73rd as Godfred Donsah ran from inside his own half before rolling the ball across for substitute Orji Okwonkwo, who had been on the pitch for less than four minutes.
Relegation-threatened Hellas Verona snapped a run of five successive defeats by beating Sassuolo 2-0. Verona played the final 24 minutes with 10 men after Thomas Heurtaux was sent off for two yellow cards.
Verona remained in penultimate place, two points below Sassuolo and a point behind 17th-placed Spal, which lost at Chievo Verona 2-1.