28.01.2023 20:54 h

Martinez brace fires Inter past winless Cremonese and into second

Lautaro Martinez shot Inter Milan into second place in Serie A with both goals in Saturday's 2-1 win at Cremonese who are still yet to win a league game this season.

Argentina striker Martinez made sure Inter bounced back from losing to Empoli last Sunday and David Okereke's 11th-minute wonder strike with goals in each half at the Stadio Giovanni Zini in Cremona.

The 25-year-old took his league tally for the season to 11 and moved Inter two points above champions AC Milan, who host Sassuolo in Sunday's opening match before the Milan derby next weekend.

Simone Inzaghi's side, who were without suspended stars Milan Skriniar and Nicolo Barella and injured Marcelo Brozovic, are still 10 points behind runaway league leaders Napoli ahead of Sunday night's clash with fierce rivals Roma in Naples.

"Today we needed to take three points back to Milan and we did that," Martinez told DAZN.

"I want as many as I can get, and if I do that it means I'm helping the team.

"We can only look at what we need to do because we've lost a lot of points and we need to claw some back, not look above us because 13 points was a big gap."

Both Martinez's strikes came following great work from Edin Dzeko, Inter drawing level in the 21st minute when Martinez pounced to net after the Bosnia forward's fine first-time strike was pushed out by Marco Carnesecchi.

And it was Dzeko's neat pass to Martinez in the 65th minute which allowed his strike partner to move to within two goals of leading scorer Victor Osimhen and secure a deserved three points.

Cremonese remain rooted at the bottom of Serie A after failing to win any of their 20 matches in their first season in Italy's top flight since 1996.

The all-time record of matches without a win from the start of a season is 28, set by Varese in 1971/72 and Ancona in 2003/04.

Davide Ballardini took charge earlier this month in an attempt to avoid relegation back to Serie B, but the veteran coach has his work cut out despite another spirited display from his team.

Cremonese have lost 12 times this term and are nine points from safety with three of the four teams within closest reach yet to play this weekend.

"We're a competitive team," insisted Ballardini.

"When we manage to obtain results that match our performances we'll be happy."

Sampdoria are one point above Cremonese and at Inter's Italian Cup opponents Atalanta in Saturday's late match, where a win for the hosts would move them into the top four and level on points with Milan.

Earlier, Torino came back from two goals down to draw 2-2 at Empoli thanks to late strikes from Samuele Ricci and Antonio Sanabria.