Nainggolan scores winner as Inter shrug off Icardi absence
Nainggolan rifled in on 78 minutes at the San Siro after Danilo D'Ambrosio had opened the scoring five minutes earlier, with Manolo Gabbiadini equalising for Sampdoria in between. It gave Inter a third straight win after a recent slump, following last weekend's victory over Parma and the Europa League round of 32, first-leg success against Rapid Vienna.
Luciano Spalletti's side sit six points behind second-placed Napoli, who host Torino later on Sunday. It had been a turbulent week for Inter, which saw Argentine forward Icardi was stripped of the captaincy amid protracted contract negotiations, having missed the last two games with a reported knee injury.
"There has been too much talk about things outside of football and it's distracting," said Nainggolan. "I hope they resolve themselves, because this is a united squad and we want to win together."
Inter director Giuseppe Marotta insisted they were not "punishing" Icardi but making a decision for "the good of the club, the dressing room and the Inter fans". The 25-year-old Icardi watched from the stands in the San Siro with his wife Wanda Nara, who also acts as his agent.
"I very much appreciated that he was in the stadium," said Spalletti. "I would have liked even more if he had come into the dressing room afterwards to celebrate with us, as it was a very important victory."
Inter proved wasteful during the first half with Milan Skriniar denied a goal for offside. The game sprung to life midway through the second period with Inter's domination paying off as D'Ambrosio met an Ivan Perisic cross. Substitute Gabbiadini immediately pulled Sampdoria level but the side from Genoa were denied a point as Nainggolan struck from the edge of the box for his third league goal of the season.
- Lazio sink in Genoa -
Earlier, Genoa captain Domenico Criscito scored deep into injury time to grab a 2-1 win over Lazio which left the capital club in seventh, four points adrift of fourth-placed AC Milan in the race for Champions League qualification. Milan Badelj had given injury-depleted Lazio a lift before the break after their Europa League defeat by Sevilla in midweek.
But Genoa punished the Romans late in the second half with Antonio Sanabria scoring on 75 minutes and Criscito sealing victory with a stunning half-volley from distance three minutes into additional time. Europa League hopefuls Fiorentina were saved by VAR amid controversy after the referee disallowed rivals SPAL a goal and instead awarded a penalty which the Tuscans converted before winning 4-1.
Mattia Valoti's deflected 75th-minute strike had been greeted with delight by the home crowd as it appeared to have given relegation-threatened SPAL a 2-1 advantage. But the referee immediately ordered a video review which confirmed Felipe had fouled Federico Chiesa in the build-up to the goal which he disallowed and instead awarded Fiorentina a penalty at the other end of the field.
Jordan Veretout stepped up and converted from the spot with the decision proving to be a killer blow for SPAL, who sit just three points above the relegation zone. Giovanni Simeone added a third goal minutes later, and Brazilian Gerson a fourth as Fiorentina moved up to eighth, three points off the European places.
"They robbed us," complained SPAL president Walter Mattioli. "If you have to cancel a goal for a foul like that, it makes me laugh."