Palacio, Jonathan strikes send Inter up to fourth

15 March 2014 11:02

Rodrigo Palacio and Jonathan scored a goal apiece in either half as Inter Milan boosted their fight for a place in Europe with a precious 2-0 win away to Verona on Saturday.

Inter had dropped out of the Europa League places due to a series of disappointing results at the turn of the year.

However Walter Mazzarri's side, undefeated in six games, have now made it three wins on the trot to move up to fourth at the expense of Fiorentina, who host Chievo on Sunday.

Mazzarri, who led Napoli to runner-up place last season, told Sky Sport: "This is the improvement in quality that we've been looking for and what I've tried to instill in the lads.

"We should be playing like this all the time. Now let's look forward to that and see how we end up at the end of the season."

Verona have now won only two of their last 10 games and coach Andrea Mandorlini said: "Disappointed, we really believed we cold get a result.

"In the first half we just didn't put our chances away."

Juventus, away to Genoa, hold a 14-point lead on Rome, who have a game in hand, with Napoli sitting in third only three points further off the pace.

Both Napoli and Roma are in action Monday with, respectively, a visit to Torino and a home game against Udinese.

Inter, meanwhile, piled the pressure on Fiorentina and several other teams looking to snatch one of two Europa League qualification places with a commanding performance at the Bentegodi Stadium.

Mauro Icardi came close early on with a header that came off post and crossbar, and the Nerazzurri were celebrating before the quarter-hour mark.

Jonathan did well at the bye line to dazzle the Verona defence before whipping a pacy cross for unmarked Palacio to first-time past Rafael to score his 13th goal of the campaign and first since signing a new two-year deal with the club on Friday.

Verona came close twice, through Romulo and then Marquinho, who drilled just wide of Samir Handanovic's far post, while at the other end Fredy Guarin stung Rafael's palms after running on to Jonathan's through ball.

Inter spurned a chance to double their lead on 54 minutes when Hernanes's curling free kick came off the crossbar.

But Jonathan settled nerves soon after with a great individual effort which, although set up by Hernanes, came through sheer persistence after he pounced on his own rebound from Rafael to beat the 'keeper from close range.

Verona rallied but after Rolando blocked Luca Toni's close-range effort Vangelis Moras missed a golden chance when his diving header from Marquinho's cross flew over the crossbar.

In stoppage time Handanovic performed heroics to keep out Juan Iturbe's angled strike and, again, the follow-up from Romulo.

Source: AFP