Daniel Maldini and M’Bala Nzola Score Crucial Goals as Relegation-Threatened Spezia Secure First Ever Win Against Inter Milan
Inter Milan’s hopes of catching Serie A leaders Napoli took another hit on Friday, as they suffered a shock defeat to relegation-threatened Spezia. The 2-1 loss at Stadio Alberto Picco saw goals from Daniel Maldini and M’Bala Nzola, either side of a Romelu Lukaku penalty, give Spezia their first victory against Inter in six attempts. The result was a huge boost to Spezia’s survival hopes, as they moved one spot above the relegation places, with a six-point cushion above Verona.
For Inter, the defeat was a bitter pill to swallow, as they missed out on the chance to cut Napoli’s huge lead at the top of the table. With just 10 games remaining in the season, Inter now find themselves 15 points adrift of Napoli, who have a game in hand. The gap could be even wider by the end of the weekend, as Napoli can stretch their lead to 18 points with a victory over Atalanta on Saturday.
The match was not without controversy, as Inter were denied an early lead when Argentinian forward Lautaro Martinez had a penalty saved by Spezia goalkeeper Bartlomiej Dragowski after 15 minutes. Martinez did find the net early in the second half, only for Lukaku’s goal to be ruled offside. Spezia took the lead on 55 minutes when Maldini, son of AC Milan legend Paolo Maldini, swept home a low shot after good work by Nzola down the right.
Inter got back on level terms with seven minutes remaining when Denzel Dumfries won a penalty, which Lukaku converted. However, their joy was short-lived, as Dumfries conceded a penalty four minutes later, which Nzola converted coolly to seal the victory for Spezia.
The defeat was Inter’s second consecutive away loss in Serie A, following their 2-0 defeat to Genoa in their previous match. The result will be a wake-up call for manager Antonio Conte, who will need to regroup his players quickly ahead of their next game against Sassuolo. Inter will need to put in a strong finish to the season if they are to have any chance of catching Napoli, who have been the standout team in Italy this season.
The result also highlighted the unpredictable nature of Serie A this season, with mid-table teams like Spezia capable of producing shock results against the top teams. It is a reminder that nothing can be taken for granted in Italian football, and that every point will be crucial in the run-in to the end of the season.