Inter Milan’s hopes of qualifying for Europe were dented on Sunday when it slipped to a shock 2-1 defeat at relegation-threatened Crotone in Serie A. Inter’s dreams of Champions League football next season were already over but it now faces the prospect of failing to qualify for the Europa League following a first-half double from Diego Falcinelli.
Inter has picked up just one point in its three matches since thrashing Atalanta 7-1 and dropped to seventh, two points behind AC Milan and the last qualifying spot for the Europa League. The two Milan teams face off in a derby on Saturday.
“We should have looked at this match with a different mentality, and instead we had the wrong approach,” Inter coach Stefano Pioli said. “The season is still long and the chances are not finished. We shouldn’t apologize, we just need to react immediately to this awful defeat. If Crotone was an exam, Inter failed.”
Crotone gave itself hope of escaping relegation as it moved to within three points of 17th-placed Empoli with a second successive victory.
“We have a very demanding calendar, but … we want to be competitive right until the end, with a dream in our hearts,” said Crotone coach Davide Nicola, who has promised to cycle the 1,300 kilometers (808 miles) from Crotone to Turin if his side avoids the drop.
Crotone took a deserved lead in the 18th minute when Gary Medel handled in the area and Falcinelli drilled the resulting penalty into the bottom left corner. Inter goalkeeper Samir Handanovic guessed the right way but could not make the save.
Falcinelli doubled his tally four minutes later as he narrowly avoided being caught offside, sprinted forward and lifted the ball over Handanovic.
It was almost 3-0 shortly before halftime but Joao Miranda stopped Marcus Rohden’s goalbound effort with his chest near the line.
Inter got back into the match in the 65th. Ever Banega’s corner was nodded on by Geoffrey Kondogbia for Danilo D’Ambrosio to volley in from close range.
The visitors almost leveled seven minutes later but Eder’s effort rebounded off the inside of an upright.
Inter poured forward but Crotone held on through a tense seven minutes of stoppage time before the final whistle sparked scenes of celebration at the Stadio Scida.
BOLOGNA 0, ROMA 3
Edin Dzeko continued his battle to finish the season as the league’s top goalscorer with the third goal in Roma’s comfortable victory.
It was Dzeko’s 24th Serie A goal this campaign and sees him remain joint top with Torino forward Andrea Belotti, who also scored on Sunday.
Juventus forward Gonzalo Higuain is next with 21 goals.
It was an easy goal for Dzeko after Diego Perotti drew out Bologna goalkeeper Antonio Mirante before rolling across for the Bosnia and Herzegovina forward to deposit into an empty net.
Federico Fazio and Mohamed Salah were on target in the first half as second-placed Roma cut the gap back to six points to leader Juventus.
Roma is seven points above Napoli, which hosts fourth-placed Lazio later in a direct battle for the final Champions League place.
AC Milan leapfrogged above bitter rivals Inter with a comfortable 4-0 victory over Palermo.
Suso came back from injury and scored an early free kick, before setting up Mario Pasalic for Milan’s second. Carlos Bacca headed in a third before halftime and Gerard Deulofeu scored after the break.
Palermo defender Giancarlo Gonzalez was sent off following a second booking seven minutes from time.
Fiorentina moved to within five points of a European spot as a last-minute goal saw it snatch a 2-2 draw at Sampdoria.
Elsewhere, Torino came from behind to win 3-2 at Cagliari. Han Kwang-Song had become the first North Korean to play in Serie A when he came on for the final four minutes against Palermo last weekend and the 18-year-old netted Cagliari’s second in stoppage time.
Udinese beat Genoa 3-0.