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Lautaro Martinez struck twice as Inter came down two goals down to defeat Empoli 4-2 in an exciting competition and climb over tough rivals Milan at the top of Serie A.
Empoli had not managed to win any of their previous nine league games away from home, but took the lead within five minutes of the San Siro through Andrea Pinamonti, who is on loan from Inter.
Inter were two goals behind when Kristjan Asllani shot in, but Martinez struck after ex-Milan man Simone Romagnoli had put in his own net to equalize before the break.
Martinez completed the comeback in the 64th minute and Alexis Sanchez added a late fourth place as Inter moved a point over Milan, who travel to Hellas Verona on Sunday.
Pinamonti slips in to meet Szymon Zurkowski’s cross and gives Empoli an early lead, and the striker proved to be true to his word by not celebrating the goal.
Asllani got a goal ruled out for an offside foul, but after Inter were awarded a penalty kick and then ruled out by VAR, the young player brilliantly controlled a pass and shot home.
But Romagnoli’s own goal as he tried to cut out Federico Dimarco’s cross gave Inter hope and Martinez steered a first-half shot five minutes later to wipe out Empoli’s lead.
Martinez’s second arrived after a sustained period of inter-pressure, the Argentine striker volleying past Guglielmo Vicario after Riccardo Fiamozzi only half cleared the ball.
Sanchez then added some brilliance to the goal line in the added time as he converted a pass from second-placed Edin Dzeko, who himself had hit the post a minute in advance.
What does it mean? Inter find a way
Inter had won their last eight Serie A meetings against Empoli and were unbeaten in 13 in this match, but they were given an almighty fright by Aurelio Andreazzoli’s men.
This Martinez-inspired comeback puts firm pressure on Milan, who still have Verona, Atalanta and Sassuolo left in their last three matches.
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Fantastic comeback from Nerazzurri! Well done boys!#InterEmpoli 4-2
– Inter (@Inter_da) May 6, 2022
Inter go all out
Simone Inzaghi’s men threw everything they had at Empoli after trailing by two goals, ending the competition with 37 shots, most of any side in a match in Europe’s top five leagues this season.
Martinez was responsible for seven of those attempts, three of which were on goal, and two of them ended up in the net to keep the Scudetto race alive.
Calhanoglu the creator
Hakan Calhanoglu scored the first of Martinez’s goals and now has 11 Serie A assists for the season.
Only two other Inter players have registered as many assists in the competition over the last 15 campaigns – Maicon in 2009-10 and Romelu Lukaku last season.
Inter face Juventus in the Coppa Italia final on Wednesday before returning to Serie A action next weekend with a trip to Cagliari. Empoli will host Salernitana in their next match.