Inter boss Simone Inzaghi has stressed the importance of a fast start for his team when they face Liverpool in the second leg of their Champions League round of 16 tie, saying it is "essential" they score in the first half at Anfield.

The Premier League side take a 2-0 lead into Tuesday's game after goals from Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah settled a tight encounter at the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza in the first leg.

Only one team in Champions League history has lost the first leg of a knockout stage tie by two or more goals at home and still gone on to progress, with Manchester United doing so against Paris Saint-Germain in the 2018-19 last 16 (0-2 at home, 3-1 away).

However, speaking at a media conference on Monday ahead of the game, Inzaghi said his team were "unlucky" in the previous game and backed them to respond.

"We were unlucky [in the first leg]. I think the result was harsh," he said. "We played a great game and deserved more.

"This is a hard match. We will face a great team, but we have confidence. We are full of motivation."

 

He was also reminded of last season's campaign when he was still in charge at Lazio and lost the first leg at the same stage of the Champions League 4-1 at home to Bayern Munich, eventually losing 6-2 on aggregate to the Bundesliga giants.

When asked his thoughts on how to approach this game, Inzaghi added: "I think we are not in pole position. We know we need to score early. A goal in the first half is essential.

"We know the challenge we face. Liverpool are one of the best teams around along with Bayern Munich and Manchester City. Anfield is a great stadium. It is great to be a part of this occasion. The first leg was spectacular, but we know this will be a tougher game."

Inter defender Alessandro Bastoni also gave his thoughts ahead of the clash on Merseyside, and was asked if the front three of Jurgen Klopp's team is the strongest he has faced.

"The trio of Liverpool? I have faced many top strikers," the Italy international said. "I have faced the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, [Karim] Benzema, Vincius [Junior]. They have some top forwards such as Salah, [Sadio] Mane, Diogo [Jota].

"We need to play as a team. This is an important experience for us... We will learn and grow from this."

Inter boss Simone Inzaghi blamed fatigue levels for his team's limp performance against Milan in the Coppa Italia semi-finals, admitting the Nerazzurri are still "licking their wounds" after losing to their rivals in Serie A last month.

Inzaghi's men managed just seven shots at goal and created a disappointing 0.30 expected goals in the 0-0 first-leg stalemate, extending their winless run to five matches in all competitions.

That is their longest such streak since a sequence of 10 without winning in February 2018, and has also seen the reigning champions surrender top spot in Serie A to Napoli.

Inter have also failed to win any of the three Milan derbies played this season, going down to an Olivier Giroud double in league action just last month, and Inzaghi believes their previous loss to the Rossoneri, as well as their recent physical exertions, have taken a heavy toll.

"I think the draw was the right result," Inzaghi told Mediaset. "We are still licking our wounds after losing the Serie A derby 2-1, that looked completely different until the 75th minute [Inter led for the majority of that contest].

"I think this derby was less spectacular compared to the other two, as there was a lot at stake. The two teams were anxious and looking at the 180 minutes.

"We want to reach the Final and win another trophy [but] knowing this was our 36th game of the season, we need to regain sharpness, but we are working on it.

"We're playing a lot. Apart from one error we made playing out from the back and a Handanovic save, I don't remember other Milan chances."

Simone Inzaghi believed Inter deserved more against Genoa after his side missed the chance to go level with Milan at the top of Serie A.

Inter were given the chance to reel in the Rossoneri after Milan were held to a 1-1 draw at San Siro by Udinese earlier on Friday.

Yet the Nerazzurri were unable to take that opportunity, left to settle for a goalless draw at Stadio Luigi Ferraris despite finishing the game with 21 shots to Genoa's seven.

Danilo D'Ambrosio hit the crossbar with the best chance for Inter, who have now won just once in their last six matches across all competitions, while they have collected only two points from their last four league games.

"Naturally, the result leaves a bitter taste in the mouth," Inzaghi told Sky Sport Italia afterwards.

"We knew that we could've had a better approach, that Genoa are in good shape and created problems for us in the opening 20 minutes, but after that we certainly deserved more.

"Just like last week with Sassuolo, we had 20 shots on goal and didn't score. Evidently, we need to work better, it's just one of those periods, but we mustn't let our heads drop. I saw the right performance and we need to get back to winning ways.

"Genoa were not easy to break down, but we got into their penalty area 37 times, had 20 shots, hit the crossbar, there were other chances too that could easily have gone in.

"Evidently, what we are doing right now isn't enough to win games, we need to do more.

"None of the top six won last week, there is some fatigue for everyone at this stage of the season and it is a bit odd. Perhaps we should've run and worked smarter and not just harder.

"Genoa were pressing hard, the pitch was not in good condition. At the start of the season, we'd score at least one every five corners, today we had 14 corners to zero and didn't find the net. It's just one of those periods where it's not going in.

"We know that games are decided by incidents and we are not fortunate at the moment. It's disappointing for the fans, who supported us from the first to the 90th minute, but I feel they are proud of what we're doing this season.

"We already have the Supercoppa, we're in the Scudetto race, in the Champions League Round of 16 and the Coppa Italia semi-final."

Simone Inzaghi was left "very angry" with Inter's approach in their 2-0 defeat against Sassuolo and warned his side to buck up their ideas if they want to retain the Serie A title.

Early goals from Giacomo Raspadori and Gianluca Scamacca made it a third straight league game without a win for the Nerazzurri, who also lost the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie to Liverpool in midweek.

Inter consequently failed to reach the summit of the table despite leaders Milan being held by Salernitana on Saturday, though only three points separate the top three in the table. Inter sit two points adrift of Milan, with Napoli in third.

Sassuolo have now clocked up away wins against both Milan sides and Juventus this term, with head coach Inzaghi left frustrated by his team's poor application.

"I am very angry with the approach, because we had three days since Wednesday's game. We talked about the fact Sassuolo beat Juve and Milan away, they play great football and we had to be wary," Inzaghi said.

"We tried to do everything in the second half, created so many chances and were unlucky, but the fact remains we should have had a different approach.

"Sassuolo had great technical quality, they were fresher physically and it showed.

"We will analyse the situation, we know there are 13 games to go, we are all up there and want to keep going forward.

"The fact is a team that wants to win the Scudetto cannot get the approach as wrong as we did today."

Lautaro Martinez drew a blank for a seventh straight game, while Opta data shows that since the resumption of the league after the mid-season break Inter have recorded 100 shots (36 on target) but managed only six goals.

They remain the top scorers in Serie A, though, and Inzaghi is sure his side will soon start finding the net with more regularity.

"I don't think there is anxiety, the great champions are accustomed to these games. I think there was a lack of sharpness, there was some fatigue, both physical and mental," Inzaghi added.

"My staff and I tried to focus the players this week, but we conceded two early goals that we usually don't allow.

"We remain the most prolific side in Serie A this season and will get back to scoring goals soon. When you are a striker and don't score, you just have to stay calm, the goal will come."

Matteo Darmian and Roberto Gagliardini were hauled off at half-time for Denzel Dumfries and Edin Dzeko, and Inzaghi would have liked to have made more alterations.

"I would have happily changed more than two at half-time," he said. "We lost some of our organisation, we tried to open it up again, but we have to analyse what went wrong today.

"There's another match in [five] days [against Genoa], we know that we play continually and need to be stronger than absences, bans, injuries, setbacks, everything.

"We're all in there and will see what happens at the end of the season."

Inter missed the opportunity to move top of Serie A as they fell to a 2-0 defeat to Sassuolo on Sunday.

Giacomo Raspadori struck after eight minutes at San Siro, with Gianluca Scamacca adding a second in the first half.

Simone Inzaghi's side dominated possession throughout but were unable to breach Alessio Dionisi's defence, leaving the Nerazzurri with just one win from their last five games across all competitions.
 
Leaders Milan were held by Salernitana on Saturday, but Inter – who have played a game fewer – failed to grasp the opportunity to move a point clear at the summit.

Hamed Traore skewed the first presentable chance of the contest off target before Raspadori squirmed a finish from inside the area under Samir Handanovic to open the scoring in the eighth minute.

Hakan Calhanoglu responded by firing just wide from range, but Sassuolo doubled their lead shortly after when Scamacca headed Traore's cross home with the help of the post. 

Smart Andrea Consigli stops from Milan Skriniar and Roberto Gagliardini maintained the visitors' advantage, while Domenico Berardi curled onto the crossbar in a frantic first half.

Inzaghi made two changes at the break, with substitute Edin Dzeko almost having an immediate impact.

Dzeko was thwarted from close range by a fine double stop by Consigli, before Lautaro Martinez inexplicably poked wide of an open goal.

Skriniar was then required to clear Raspadori's chip off the line and Berardi angled just wide of the far post with another sumptuous curling strike.

Inter (17) have gained the most points from trailing situations in the Italian top flight this season, and Stefan de Vrij thought he had sparked another late comeback only for his header to be ruled out by VAR for a Federico Dimarco handball.

 

What does it mean? Inter slip up in pursuit of Scudetto

After seeing Milan held, Inzaghi's side knew a win would take them top – a point clear of Stefano Pioli's team and four clear of third-placed Napoli.

However, after the Nerazzurri's six-game unbeaten league run against Sassuolo ended, Inter remain two behind Milan and just one clear of Luciano Spalletti's men as the race for the Scudetto continues to twist and turn.

Dionisi's side had won just one of their last eight league games, but victory on the road saw them climb above Empoli and into 11th.

Brilliant Berardi

Berardi may feel unfortunate he did not get on the scoresheet in the opening 45 minutes after sending a glorious left-footed strike against the crossbar from just outside the area.

However, the Sassuolo captain did assist Raspadori's opener, which made him the first player across Europe's top-five leagues to register double figures for both goals and assists this season.

Missing Martinez

Martinez has scored four goals against Sassuolo in the competition – only registering more against Cagliari – but the striker struggled here as he fired another blank.

The Argentina international missed a glorious second-half chance and has now not found the net in seven league appearances, his joint-longest run in Serie A (also seven matches in August 2019). 

What's next?

Inter visit Genoa on Friday, while Sassuolo host Fiorentina the next day.

Simone Inzaghi joked he was relieved Inter did not have to face Liverpool in every match after they suffered a late 2-0 loss in their Champions League encounter. 

The last-16 first leg at San Siro looked destined for a 0-0 draw but Roberto Firmino glanced home a header – the first effort on target of the match – in the 75th minute to put Liverpool in front. 

Mohamed Salah then marked his 50th Champions League appearance for the club with his 33rd goal for the Reds in the competition – only Cristiano Ronaldo (51 for Real Madrid) and Robert Lewandowski (36 for Bayern Munich) had managed more at the same point for a single team. 

Inter performed well until Firmino broke the deadlock. They looked more threatening and hit the crossbar through Hakan Calhanoglu in the first half. 

However, they were unable to stop Jurgen Klopp becoming just the eight coach to reach 50 wins in the Champions League, with Inzaghi pleased they do not have to lock horns too often. 

"We hope not to face Liverpool every game," Inzaghi told Amazon Prime. 

"I am happy and proud of the team. Unfortunately, during our best period of the game, we were not rewarded with the goal we deserved, then Liverpool scored at the first half-distraction we had. 

"We certainly deserved more, but this performance has to bode well for what is to come in the future. Liverpool are one of the two best teams in Europe in my view. We held out well and deserved more. 

"We know these evenings can be like this, but it has to give us a self-esteem boost because it was an excellent performance. 

"It's difficult to comment after a result like this, but it has to be a starting point for Inter at this level. I think this is the strongest opponent we've faced this season." 

Edin Dzeko, who had a goal correctly ruled out for offside in the 60th minute, also felt there were positives for Inter to take ahead of the second leg at Anfield on March 8. 

"We did well for 75 minutes, giving away very little to Liverpool. It's a shame to concede from a corner, where we are usually strong. But this is what happens with great teams; if you don't score, they'll punish you," said Dzeko. 

"Everyone gave their all for 90 minutes, but it wasn't enough. We come out of this defeat with our heads held high because we know we have given everything. 

"It's not a positive result for us, but first we have to focus on Serie A and then we'll see." 

Liverpool must be considered favourites for the Champions League last-16 tie with Inter, but the Nerazzurri deserve to be back in the latter stages of the competition, according to Simone Inzaghi.

Inter finished second behind Real Madrid in Group D, progressing to the last 16 of the competition for the first time since 2011-12.

This will be the fifth meeting between Inter and Liverpool. Each of the previous four have been in the knockout stages of the European Cup/Champions League, with the Serie A side progressing over two legs in the 1964-65 semi-finals – a year in which they went on to lift the trophy – and the Reds emerging from the last 16 in 2007-08.

Inzaghi knows his team cannot be considered favourites, given the strength of Liverpool, yet he wants his team to play with freedom on their return to the knockout stages.

He told a news conference: "Liverpool are one of the best teams in Europe, but our players deserve to play these kinds of games.

"We haven't played in the round of 16 for many years and although it will be very difficult, we'll try to make it.

"On paper, Liverpool are the favourite, but the games must be played. I'll ask the lads to go on the pitch and play our football with a free mind, showing our ideas. Determination will make the difference.

"The first step was to reach the round of 16. We'll face a top club with strong players, but all games start from 0-0. In some games, you must take care of every detail.

"We watched Liverpool's matches, the ones against Milan and the most recent ones.

"They have a deep squad, a great coach, they are intense, so we need to do well every time, both when we have the ball and when we defend."

Inter head into the clash having lost their grip on top spot in Serie A following a derby defeat to Milan and a 1-1 draw with their other title rivals, Napoli.

"I am not satisfied with the results, I didn't expect them," the former Lazio coach added.

"But I think we played two great games against two great teams who, along with Juventus, will be title challengers."

Inter have been eliminated from two of their previous three two-legged knockout ties against English opponents. All three of these have been at the round-of-16 stage, losing out to Liverpool in 2007-08 and Manchester United in 2008-09, before eliminating Chelsea a year later en route to winning the Champions League under Jose Mourinho.

They have, however, won their past two home games in the Champions League, one more than they had managed in their previous nine between November 2018 and September 2021 (D5 L3). The last time they recorded three consecutive home wins in the competition was between December 2009 and November 2010.

Inter assistant Massimiliano Farris praised his team's mentality and fitness levels after they came from behind to secure a 1-1 draw at title rivals Napoli.

Nerazzurri coach Simone Inzaghi served a touchline ban in Naples after both he and defender Alessandro Bastoni were shown red cards in the aftermath of the defending champions' 2-1 derby defeat to Milan last week.

Lorenzo Insigne's first-half penalty gave Napoli a deserved half-time lead and left Inter staring at consecutive defeats to their main Scudetto rivals, but Edin Dzeko's equalising goal ensured the visitors escaped Naples with a point.

And Farris was pleased with how they responded to going behind.

"The second-half performance says a great deal about the quality of this squad," he told DAZN in the aftermath of the stalemate.

"We had some regrets at half-time, but in the second half [we] showed a great reaction and mental strength in a fiery atmosphere. 

"We smothered Napoli’s enthusiasm and we could've won it at the end, but we're content with a point here."

Inter managed just three shots worth a mere 0.17 combined expected goals before the break, but an improved second half display ensured the Nerazzurri earned a valuable draw, and they have now won 17 points from losing positions in Serie A this season, more than any other team in the division.

Farris, who accompanied Inzaghi during his five-year stint as Lazio boss before joining him at San Siro, put Inter's ability to rescue points from difficult situations down to their fitness levels.

"Napoli changed tactics to a [back] five and that was a sign of them backing off, [but] we still had fuel in the tank, despite coming off the derby and a Coppa Italia match, whereas Napoli had all week to prepare for this game," he said.

"The team was controlling the situation well [in the second half]. It's all a positive sign."

Despite seeing their 440-minute stretch without conceding an away goal in Serie A come to an end, Inter maintained their one-point lead over Luciano Spalletti's Napoli at the Serie A summit with the draw, although cross-city rivals Milan could leapfrog the Nerazzurri by beating Sampdoria on Sunday.

Inter forward Alexis Sanchez served up a reminder of his talent before expressing frustration at a lack of opportunities under Simone Inzaghi this season.

Sanchez produced an inspired performance as the Nerazzurri responded to their derby defeat by Milan with a 2-0 win over Roma, advancing to the Coppa Italia semi-finals.

After Edin Dzeko opened the scoring at San Siro, Chile international Sanchez sealed victory with a ferocious 25-yard effort midway through the second half.

The former Barcelona, Manchester United and Arsenal forward also registered game-high tallies of 13 crosses and five key passes.

Sanchez was making his 23rd appearance of the season in all competitions, but only his sixth start.

While acknowledging the team must come first, he spoke of his frustration at mainly having to settle for cameos.

He said: "I always want to play. The more I play, the better I feel. I want to do the best for the team, it's difficult to play five or 10 minutes and do well."

Looking at Inter's current circumstances, Sanchez told Sport Mediaset: “We know that we played better than Milan in the derby, but we shouldn't have made those mistakes.

"We're staying calm as we're still top [of Serie A] and we want to continue down our path."

Meanwhile, Inzaghi expressed delight at his players' response to their disappointing weekend defeat at the hands of Milan.

The Inter head coach said: "The boys were very good, it was not an easy match. Roma are a quality team, with an excellent squad. We controlled the pitch very well and deserved [to reach] this semi-final.

"I congratulated the boys because to play a match with such strong personality two and a half days after the setback in the derby wasn't easy."

The only sour note for the hosts was an ankle injury sustained by defender Alessandro Bastoni during the first half.

Inzaghi hopes that any spell on the sidelines for the Italy international will be minimal.

"I hope it is nothing serious," Inzaghi said. "The doctors will do the necessary checks, we hope not to lose him for too long because he is really too important to us."

Simone Inzaghi bemoaned Inter's 2-1 loss to fierce rivals Milan and admitted his players learned a "tough lesson" as the Scudetto title race was blown wide open.

Inter were heading seven points clear at the top of Serie A with a game in hand after Ivan Perisic's first-half volley put them in control of Saturday's Derby della Madonnina.

The Nerazzurri continued to dominate for large parts of the match and would have been further ahead if not for Mike Maignan, who pulled off four big saves in the first half.

However, Inter were punished for failing to kill off the contest when Olivier Giroud scored a quickfire double at San Siro in his first taste of this famous fixture.

Giroud slid in at the back post to level up the game on 75 minutes and added a second three minutes later, becoming the first Frenchman to score twice against Inter in Serie A.

After falling to a barely believable first home league loss since October 2020 – also against Milan – Inzaghi was left to wonder just how his side chucked away the points.

"This is football. We dominated in every way but weren't sharp at the end. They were lucky on the first goal and were smart on the second," he said.

"I saw a derby with one-way traffic for 60 minutes. In the final 25 minutes, we weren't as sharp or as in control, and the game was more open to individual incidents. 

"We know it's a defeat that hurts, but strong teams must be able to analyse their errors.

"If we played it again 10 times, we might lose it once. We all know how important the derby is; we didn't deserve to lose, but that is football.

"Until the equaliser, we had allowed Milan practically nothing. It's a tough lesson, but a valuable one to make us more determined to kill off games so this doesn't happen again."

 

Inter's players were unhappy that Giroud's first goal was allowed to stand as they felt that he barged into former Arsenal team-mate Alexis Sanchez earlier in the attack.

But Inzaghi accepted Inter only had themselves to blame after falling to just a second league loss to Milan – who lost Theo Hernandez to a late red card – in their last 12 meetings.

"The lads got irritated at the equaliser, as there was probably a clear foul on Alexis Sanchez and we lost our focus," he said.

"We should've scored the second goal, while Alexis Sanchez was barged off the pitch practically by Giroud on the goal.

"But the fact remains if we had taken more of our chances, [the Giroud incident] wouldn’t have mattered. It's not a problem, it was a challenge. 

"If you think it's fair, that's fine. It's not the issue – the lads lost their focus a bit after that incident and that's the problem. The referee let a lot go."

Saturday's defeat was Inter's first to Milan in the league after leading in the game since February 2004 and leaves them just one point clear, albeit with a game in hand.

Samir Handanovic, whose 30 Serie A appearances against Milan is the most of any current player against another in the competition, echoed the thoughts of his head coach.

"Today we did everything. We had the game under control and played well," he told Inter TV. "But then we lost a few too many balls and were punished. 

"There are many more games and the mistakes have to be reviewed. It must be understood why we managed the last 15 minutes like we did. 

"Sometimes you take risks and you are not punished; today we took risks and were punished."

Simone Inzaghi scoffed at the idea Inter might kill off Milan's title hopes in Saturday's derby, as he claimed even Juventus remain in the Scudetto hunt.

A victory for Inter would move them seven points clear of Milan, while also having the advantage of a game in hand.

Inzaghi's Inter will be the home side at the San Siro stadium the teams share, and the Nerazzurri lead the way at the top of Serie A after losing just one of their opening 22 games.

It would be hard to see Milan coming back from defeat to their great rivals, but Inzaghi is not discounting the prospect.

Asked if three points for Inter would count out Milan, Inzaghi said: "I don't think so. There are another 15 matches to go and we all saw what happened in the first half of the season. We were seven points behind and drew the derby and still managed to close the gap."

Milan made a flying start to the season but were reeled in, with 2021-22 carrying distinct echoes of how the 2020-21 campaign panned out.

Then, it was Antonio Conte pulling the strings as Inter charged through to capture the title, and now it is Inzaghi's turn, with a first Scudetto of his coaching career beckoning.

He triumphed in Serie A as a player with Sven-Goran Eriksson's double-winning Lazio in 1999-2000, and is not getting ahead of himself this time.

"It's an important game and we know how much it means to the fans," Inzaghi said of derby day. "But there are 45 points and a lot of football to play before we can draw any conclusions.

"I played in lots of derbies and there's never a favourite. Tomorrow will be no different: it's a game that will be won by fine margins. It will come down to our motivation."

Inter have lost only one of their last 11 Serie A meetings against Milan. That defeat was a 2-1 setback in October 2020, with Zlatan Ibrahimovic scoring twice in the opening 16 minutes. Inter have won six and drawn four of those 11 games, with Milan keeping a clean sheet just once.

Most signs point to Inter giving up no ground to their city rivals this weekend. Their last Serie A home defeat was that 2020 loss to Milan, and they are undefeated in 28 games since in the competition when hosting.

Inzaghi won just three of 10 Serie A games against Milan while serving as head coach at Lazio, and his Inter side drew 1-1 with Stefano Pioli's Rossoneri earlier this season.

For obvious reasons, Inzaghi would dearly love a win this time. Napoli and Milan both enter the weekend as Inter's closest challengers, four points back and having played one game more than Inzaghi's men.

Despite this position of strength, Inzaghi said the title race was "all still open".

"Besides Milan and Napoli, there's Atalanta and Juventus, who are very good teams," Inzaghi told a news conference, according to Inter's website.

"Juventus have been doing really well in the last two months and they've made some great signings. All of the teams down to Juventus could win the Scudetto."

Juventus raided Fiorentina last week to sign Dusan Vlahovic, the exciting Serbian forward who hit 33 goals in Serie A in 2021, and that should fortify Massimiliano Allegri's fifth-placed Bianconeri for a push into the Champions League places.

Juve are 11 points off the top, also having played 23 games to Inter's 22. Atalanta are a point better off than Juve, occupying fourth spot.

Inter have confirmed the signing of Felipe Caicedo on loan from fellow Serie A side Genoa until the end of the season.

The 33-year-old, who previously worked under Inter boss Simone Inzaghi at Lazio, ​becomes the first Ecuadorian player to represent the Nerazzurri.

Caicedo joined Genoa from Lazio in August but will spend the rest of 2021-22 at San Siro, where he will provide competition to the likes of Lautaro Martinez and Edin Dzeko.

"I'm very excited. I want to be a success here," Caicedo, who will wear the number 88 shirt, told Inter's official website. 

"I want to thank the coach, Inzaghi, for trying his best to bring me here. I'm delighted and can't wait to start training and playing for Inter.

"I'm really proud to represent my country and to be the first Ecuadorian to play for Inter. I'm very happy and I think I can do very well here."

 

Caicedo scored only one goal in 10 appearances for Genoa in all competitions – albeit just two of those were starts – while chipping in with a couple of assists.

Since arriving in Serie A with Lazio in August 2017, the former Manchester City player has scored 29 goals in 114 games at a rate of one goal every 162 minutes.

That is a similar strike rate to new team-mate Martinez, who has netted a goal every 158 minutes across 120 appearances in the Italian top flight.

Caicedo played a part in Lazio's Coppa Italia triumph under Inzaghi in 2018-19 and is looking forward to reuniting with the Italian coach.

"I worked with him for four years at Lazio, and now we get to link up again," the former Ecuador international said. "He was really important. 

"He convinced me to join straight away. So I am grateful and can't wait to start training under him again."

Caicedo is the second player to join Serie A leaders Inter this window following the arrival of wing-back Robin Gosens from Atalanta, with that deal also initially a loan.

Inter coach Simone Inzaghi has tested positive for coronavirus.

The Serie A champions confirmed the 45-year-old returned a positive test on Monday following routine testing.

In a brief statement, Inter informed supporters that Inzaghi "will now follow the protocols set out in the healthcare guidelines".

Nevertheless, the news is not expected to result in major disruption for the club given they are not to be in action again until February 5, when they host neighbours Milan in the Derby della Madonnina.

Under Italian Football Federation (FIGC) guidelines, players and staff only need to isolate for three days if they are showing no symptoms.

Similarly, any players deemed to be a close contact of Inzaghi's will still be able to train as long as they have not tested positive for the virus.

Measures were introduced at the start of the month that meant players, staff and fans had to have received at least two doses of a coronavirus vaccine to be allowed into stadiums.

However, even before that rule was brought in, Serie A was reported to have had as many as 98 per cent of players already double vaccinated.

Simone Inzaghi praised his Inter players for not losing their heads after they came from behind to beat Venezia 2-1 at San Siro on Saturday.

Thomas Henry had put Venezia in front against the run of play with an excellent header, before Nicolo Barella ensured Inter went into the break level.

The reigning champions looked like they would drop points at home in Serie A for only the third time since October 2020, but Edin Dzeko sealed an important win in the 90th minute.

The result lifted the Nerazzurri five points clear of Milan at the Serie A summit, with Inzaghi citing his players' ability to remain calm after Venezia's opener as the key to their success.

"The team believed to the end. The lads did so well considering we were coming off the Atalanta game and extra time in the Coppa Italia and Supercoppa," he told DAZN.

"If we analyse the goal, we should've done better and been more attentive before Henry's header. We need to get back to being ferocious in these situations.

"The team could've lost its head after that goal, but we kept going and turned it around in the end.

"We won the Supercoppa, we progressed in the Champions League and Coppa Italia – all these are important signs and now we enjoy this victory too.

"We'll get back together on Wednesday and start preparing for the derby."

Inzaghi also bemoaned the state of the San Siro pitch, saying it could harm his side's title tilt.

"The biggest problem both Inter and Milan face is the state of San Siro, as the turf is becoming unplayable for both of us," he added.

"We could've done better, but honestly the turf is awful. We need to take action – it has never been this bad before."

Dzeko had gone four Serie A games without scoring before his crucial winner, which came from his seventh attempt on goal, and he appeared to praise Inzaghi for not substituting him. 

"When you score at the last minute it's normal to cheer with anger," the striker said. "We certainly missed my goals but the important thing is that the team wins. It was nice to score in the 90th minute."

"Inzaghi understands football; he has played football and he knows that I can solve the match even in the last minute.

"There are no easy ones in Serie A. Today we saw it and perhaps it was one of the more difficult ones for us this year. 

"We suffer from time to time, but the important thing is to win and take home the three points. They defended well and there were few spaces, but to find the goal you need patience."

Simone Inzaghi expressed his delight with Inter's reaction as his side came from behind to beat Empoli in the Coppa Italia last 16.

Empoli stunned the Serie A leaders in the second half as substitute Nedim Bajrami cancelled out Alexis Sanchez's opener before the visitors fortuitously took the lead at San Siro when Ionut Radu deflected into his own net.

Andrea Ranocchia levelled things up with a stunning, acrobatic stoppage-time equaliser to send Inter into extra-time in the last 16 of the competition for the fourth time in their last eight outings.

Substitute Stefano Sensi stepped up to deliver the decisive strike after 104 minutes, Inzaghi's side now boasting 20 different scorers this season – more than any other team in Europe's top-five leagues in all competitions.

Despite squandering an initial one-goal lead, Inzaghi was pleased with what he saw from his side as they made the quarter-finals for the 18th time in their last 19 seasons.

"I think we had an excellent first half, where we found the goalkeeper who should be congratulated for two, or three, difficult saves," Inzaghi told Inter TV post-match. 

"In my opinion, we deserved a few more goals, then in the second half we lost clarity, we stretched out. In the spaces, they showed the qualities they have. 

"We went down, we changed players, we changed formation, but the boys gave everything on the pitch, they didn't give up and we go to the quarters with a lot of confidence.

"We suffered, we went under, but I take the big reaction."

Inter return to Serie A action on Saturday when they host Venezia.

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.