Edin Dzeko fired Inter Milan into the top four of Serie A on Sunday with a brace in his team’s 3-2 win at Atalanta on Sunday, the final day of top flight action before the World Cup.
Veteran forward Dzeko struck nine minutes before the break to level Ademola Lookman’s penalty opener for the hosts, and then forced home his sixth league goal of the season 20 minutes later.
Jose Luis Palomino glanced in an own goal an hour into his Atalanta return after being cleared of doping offences, ensuring that Inter moved level on 30 points with second-placed Lazio and AC Milan.
Palomino pulled a goal back with 13 minutes remaining when he headed in at the right end, but Atalanta’s third straight defeat leaves them in sixth, 14 points behind league leaders Napoli.
“We started a bit below our best but we woke up once we conceded… Any team can struggle against Atalanta who are always dangerous at home,” Dzeko told Sky.
Inter are 11 points off the pace but will stay in the Champions League positions until January as long as Juventus don’t beat Lazio in the final Serie A match of 2022 on Sunday night.
Simone Inzaghi’s team host unbeaten Napoli in their first match after Serie A reconvenes in January following the World Cup and traditional Christmas break as they try to stay in the title race.
“Our hope is that we win the next match, like I said after Bologna (won 6-1 midweek) we have to look forwards and not backwards,” added Dzeko, who has scored nine times in all competitions this season.
“You have to compliment Napoli for the season they’re having.”
Both Lazio and champions Milan, who host Fiorentina at the San Siro, can take the end-of-year gap between them and Napoli to eight points with wins in their respective matches.
Sunday is also a big day at the bottom end of the table as Verona will try to pull themselves up from last place against Spezia, who sit just outside the relegation zone.
Meanwhile Monza, in their first ever Serie A season, host Salernitana looking to extend the six-point gap separating them from the bottom three.