Soccer-Inter secure top four finish after 3-2 win against Atalanta

Soccer Football - Serie A - Inter Milan v Atalanta - San Siro, Milan, Italy - May 27, 2023 Inter Milan's Romelu Lukaku celebrates after the match REUTERS/Claudia Greco

MILAN (Reuters) -Inter Milan scored twice inside the opening four minutes but had to fight to beat Atalanta 3-2 at home on Saturday, which guaranteed them a top four finish in Serie A.

Simone Inzaghi's side are second in the standings with 69 points, eight ahead of Atalanta, who occupy fifth place with only one game remaining for both. Lazio, in third place, are one point behind Inter before their match against Cremonese on Sunday.

After the match, Inzaghi was full of praise for his squad.

"I am very happy, I congratulated the team because this evening was probably the most important of the last 18 (matches) in 47 days," he told Sky Sport Italia.

"They are doing everything for me, we blocked our ears to what was being said and worked hard."

Inter made an explosive start, with Romelu Lukaku scoring after just 39 seconds. Nicolo Barella doubled the lead barely two minutes later by firing in a rebound from Federico Dimarco's effort.

It was the first time in more than 82 years that Inter scored twice within the first three minutes of play in Serie A.

Inter could even have had a third before the ten-minute mark, but Hakan Calhanoglu's effort was disallowed due to an offside.

Atalanta gradually woke up from the early setback, with both Rasmus Hojlund and Teun Koopmeiners having chances that called Inter goalkeeper Andre Onana into action.

Mario Pasalic injected life into the game when he reduced the score after 36 minutes, capitalising on a failed clearance and firing in.

Inter dominated again after halftime and Lautaro Martinez scored from close range 13 minutes from time to put Inter 3-1 ahead. Lukaku rolled the ball across the box for the Argentine to slot in.

Atalanta pulled one back a minute into stoppage time as Luis Muriel's free-kick struck the wall, with the follow-up shot ricocheting off the crossbar and then rebounding in off Onana.

However, the Champions League finalists held on for the win and now have one league match remaining against Torino before they face Manchester City in Istanbul on June 10.

"We all know Manchester City are the strongest squad in the world, they are the favourites, but we gave our all to get here and will give our all on the night, too," he added.

(Reporting by Tommy Lund in GdanskEditing by Christian Radnedge)

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