Lazio 2-0 Inter: Klose ends Champions League hopes for Mancini's men

The German forward opened the scoring in the opening stages and Antonio Candreva sealed three points for the Romans, while Murillo saw red on a nightmare day for the away team

An early Miroslav Klose strike put Lazio on the path to a 2-0 victory over Inter on Sunday, ending the visitors’ hopes of making the Champions League in the process. 

Roberto Mancini’s side needed a win to keep the pressure on third-placed Roma in Serie A, but Miroslav Klose’s eighth-minute goal set them back in the capital.

Inter turned on the style to put three goals past Udinese last time out but they were sluggish and short of ideas against Lazio, with Ivan Perisic and Stevan Jovetic coming closest to finding an equaliser.

Lazio were likewise unadventurous in attack once they had their advantage, although Keita Balde felt aggrieved to be booked for simulation rather than see a penalty awarded midway through the second period.

Inter turned up the heat a little late on but an equaliser never looked likely to materialise, and Antonio Candreva settled the contest seven minutes from time from the penalty spot after Jeison Murillo earned a second booking for felling Keita.

The result means Juventus, Napoli and Roma are now assured of finishing in the Champions League places this season.

Lazio may have little but a top-half finish to play for, but they seized the initiative early on. Senad Lulic slipped the ball through to Klose, who waited for Samir Handanovic to go to ground before lifting the ball expertly into the net from point-blank range.

Inter looked unsettled by the early goal but almost snatched an equaliser when Geoffrey Kondogbia chipped a fine pass to Jovetic, who was denied by a sprawling save from Federico Marchetti.

Candreva stung the fingertips of Handanovic from 30 yards, and the Slovenian saved superbly moments later as Keita burst into the area and aimed a low shot at the far corner.

Inter showed something of an improvement early in the second half but Lazio were frustrated not to be given a chance to extend their lead when Keita was booked for diving after going to ground under pressure from Miranda in the penalty area.

Roberto Mancini introduced Jonathan Biabiany for Gary Medel in an effort to give more support to the frustrated Mauro Icardi in attack, but too often the final pass let them down as Lazio looked content to sit deeper and hit on the break.

Perisic dragged a promising opening wide of Marchetti’s left-hand post before Jovetic came within inches of prodding home following a corner, as Inter at last began to apply consistent pressure with 20 minutes to play.

Perisic tested Marchetti with a decent free-kick and Miranda turned Marcelo Brozovic’s resulting corner over the bar, but that was as good as it got for the visitors in attack.

Keita finally earned a spot-kick as he twisted and turned away from Murillo, who was given a second yellow card for the foul, and Candreva picked out the top corner from 12 yards to seal the win which means Inter must now focus on securing a Europa League spot.

Lazio v Inter Preview: Melo working hard for Brazil recall

La Beneamata head to Stadio Olimpico on Sunday hoping to keep alive their slim Champions League hopes, and their Brazilian midfielder will be looking to make an impact

Inter midfielder Felipe Melo faces Lazio this weekend hoping to continue proving his doubters wrong back in Brazil. 

Melo has criticised claims in the Brazilian media that a lack of game time for Inter was preventing him from potentially making a shock return for the national team

The midfielder’s last international appearance came in a quarter-final defeat against Netherlands at the 2010 World Cup, a game in which he was sent off, but head coach Dunga has not ruled out a recall.

“Here is the truth,” Melo told MeiaHora

“I’m working hard and the Brazilian press says I’m a reserve at Inter, but I’ve played 30 games for the Nerazzurri. 

“Why would I play so much if I was a reserve? I’m working hard and I’ve never hidden the fact that my desire is to return to the national team.

“That’s just how the Brazilian press is today, it’s made up of former players who haven’t won anything. That’s why no-one in Brazil respects them.”

Roberto Mancini’s men travel to Rome needing a win to keep alive their slim Champions League qualification hopes, with Inter seven points behind third-placed Roma with three games left in Serie A.

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Gary Medel returns from suspension for Inter, giving Mancini a full squad to choose from as he looks to improve their away form, having only won once in their last eight league games on the road.

Goalkeeper Federico Marchetti insists Lazio are aiming to end the season as strongly as possible, with Simone Inzaghi in temporary charge following the sacking of Stefano Pioli after a heavy derby defeat to Roma this month.

“We already knew Simone Inzaghi, but when there’s a change of coach it resets everything,” Marchetti told Corriere dello Sport.

“We all want to end this season in the best way possible. Pioli? We have good memories, there was satisfaction and some disappointments.”

Miroslav Klose is fit again and available for selection and Marchetti hailed the veteran striker’s impact, although he has only scored five goals this season.

“When he arrived I was curious to get to know him. He’s a great player and a great person who always helps the younger lads,” he said. “It’s been a good five years, Klose has made me better.”

Stefan de Vrij and Stefan Radu remain on Lazio’s lengthy injury list with Alessandro Matri and Ricardo Kishna, while Antonio Candreva, Marco Parolo and Milan Bisevac are also doubts.

Perisic: Liverpool and Chelsea should talk to Inter

The Nerazzurri winger says he is happy to stay in Milan but called on any interested clubs to talk to his club about a potential transfer

Inter star Ivan Perisic has told the likes of Premier League giants Liverpool and Chelsea to table any interest with his club.

Liverpool and Chelsea are both reportedly interested in the 27-year-old winger, who only joined Inter in August last year.

The Croatia international said it was an “honour” to play for Inter and deflected questions about his future by insisting he was happy to stay with Roberto Mancini’s side.

However, Perisic did suggest Inter was a stop in his career as opposed to the final destination during a question-and-answer session for the club’s official site.

“Inter is a big step in my career. They’re a big club and I’ll do my best to perform well here,” he said.

“I really like Italy and Inter. When I was a kid I used to watch several leagues and I knew the names of all the greats that have played for this club. Italy is a gorgeous country and I really like it.

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“I’ve got a five-year contract and I’m coming to the end of the first, which means I still have four to run. You never know in football. though. but if someone was interested they’d need to talk to Inter.”

Perisic said he was confident that Mancini’s young side could go on to achieve big things.

Inter started the season well but were undone by a horror run in the middle of the year that wrecked their title chances as Juventus recovered from their poor start to claim a fifth consecutive Serie A title.

Inter are now struggling to qualify for the Champions League, as they trail third-placed Roma by seven points with three games remaining.

“The fans would like to see Inter winning trophies like in 2010. We’re a young team and we’ve made progress. Lots of new players joined this year so we need a bit of time to develop further,” he said.

“What matters is the team winning. Even if I only managed to score once or twice all season, if the team won the league title, I’d still be happy.”

Mancini feels Toure swoop is unlikely

The pair worked together during the Italian’s stint in the Premier League, but he admits that tempting the Ivorian to San Siro would be no easy undertaking

Inter coach Roberto Mancini believes it will be difficult to sign Manchester City midfielder Yaya Toure during the close-season transfer window.

Toure has one season remaining on his contract at City, who he joined during Mancini’s tenure at the Etihad Stadium ahead of the 2010-11 campaign.

The Ivory Coast international scored winning goals in the FA Cup semi-final and final that season and went on to play a central role in City’s Premier League title triumph under Mancini in 2011-12.

He has continued to be an influential figure under Mancini’s successor Manuel Pellegrini but doubt began swirling over the 32-year-old’s long-term future after City confirmed Pep Guardiola would replace the Chilean from next season.

Guardiola sold Toure to City when he was in charge of Barcelona and the player’s outspoken agent Dimitri Seluk has since resumed his familiar role of offering mixed messages regarding his client’s long-term future.

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Nevertheless, Mancini is not overly optimistic about the prospects of prizing a player he admires away from the Premier League.

“I always get asked a thousand questions about players,” he told Premium Sport.

“I’ve said that with players who have good technique and personality we could improve. We’ll see what happens.

“As for Toure, we’re talking about a Manchester City player. That’s why I say it won’t be easy to operate on the transfer market.

“We’ll evaluate opportunities as they arise.”

Inter lie fourth in the Serie A table with three matches to play this season, their hopes of the title and Champions League qualification having faded since the turn of the year.