It was supposed to be a battle for Europe. In the end it was over by the 26th minute and Inter Milan romped to a 7-1 victory over Atalanta in Serie A on Sunday.
Mauro Icardi and Ever Banega both scored hat tricks as Inter moved above Atalanta and into fourth place, a point above Lazio which hosts Torino on Monday.
It remains six points below the Champions League spots.
Icardi netted his hat trick in nine first-half minutes. The Argentine opened the scoring in the 17th when Ever Banega’s free kick ricocheted off the wall and into his path to fire home.
Icardi had won that free kick and he earned a penalty minutes later when he was felled by Atalanta goalkeeper Etrit Berisha. He coolly chipped the spot kick into the net.
The 24-year-old completed his hat trick in the 26th, heading in Banega’s cross.
Icardi has scored 20 league goals this season and is now second in the goalscoring charts, two behind Torino forward Andrea Belotti.
Atalanta was shell-shocked and it swiftly got worse as Banega scored twice from two Antonio Candreva crosses shortly after the half hour.
The visitors got one back three minutes before the break when Remo Freuler was allowed to dribble unchallenged toward the area and he placed his effort into the far bottom corner.
Roberto Gagliardini, who moved from Atalanta in January, also got in on the act seven minutes after the break, smashing Banega’s cross under the crossbar.
Banega completed his hat trick in the 67th with a free kick.
NAPOLI 3 CROTONE 0
There was no Champions League hangover for Napoli as it maintained its push to get into next year’s competition.
Napoli, which was eliminated by Real Madrid midweek, moved second, a point above Roma ahead of the capital side’s match at Palermo later.
After surviving a couple of early scares, Napoli broke the deadlock in the 32nd when Mario Sampirisi pushed over Lorenzo Insigne and he dusted himself off to slot the resulting penalty into the bottom left corner.
Crotone went close to equalising at the start of the second half but Napoli doubled its lead in the 66th with another penalty, this time converted by Dries Mertens, who had just come off the bench, after Marek Hamsik was tripped by Noe Dussenne.
Insigne doubled his tally four minutes later, controlling Jorginho’s ball over the top and slotting it past Alex Cordaz.
Nikola Kalinic’s stoppage-time goal secured Fiorentina a vital 1-0 win over Cagliari and kept its hopes of qualifying for the Europa League alive.
Fiorentina remained eighth, five points behind AC Milan, which lost 2-1 at Juventus on Friday.
Elsewhere, Chievo Verona beat Empoli 4-0, Udinese won 3-1 at Pescara and Bologna held on for a 1-0 victory at Sassuolo.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines