Antonio Conte believes the Serie A title is "95 per cent" decided after Inter's slender 1-0 win over Hellas Verona on Sunday. 

The Nerrazzuri were far from their fluid best at San Siro, but sealed a 13th consecutive home league win for the second time in their history thanks to Matteo Darmian's goal 14 minutes from full-time. 

The result moved Inter 13 points clear at the top of the table with five games remaining, although neighbours Milan can scale that back to 10 with victory over Lazio on Monday. 

Conte is in no doubt his side will wrap up a first Scudetto since the 2009-10 season, but acknowledged some of his players have been feeling the pressure of the situation. 

"The ball is heavier now, many players have never lived this situation and it's undeniable a few players have been affected by this," Conte told DAZN.

"We played two good games against Napoli and Spezia [they drew both 1-1]. They said we had stopped ourselves, but it wasn't this like that.

"Managing to win this season makes these footballers become winners. Never forget the others are dropping points. We have been consistent. 

"Sometimes we suffer a little bit more, but we are keeping our foot on the gas pedal."

Conte sprinted to celebrate with his players after Darmian's goal and said he was motivated by the Serie A title being within touching distance. 

"It's easy to explain. In that run, I see 95 per cent of the Scudetto," he added. 

"I think it was an important win. We haven't won it yet, but it was important to win against a team that can create trouble; a very physical team that had nothing to lose.

"We've worked a lot over the last two seasons. As I said many times, Inter haven't been competitive for a long time. We tried [to win] last season. This term, we are close, but we need to work both on a mental and a footballing level.

"Sometimes I am heavy, but I found few people who can be both winners and light hearted. The path is extremely complicated. It takes hard work and sacrifice."

Inter limited Verona to just a solitary shot on target as they stretched their unbeaten Serie A home record against Ivan Juric's side to a club record 30 games, surpassing their 29-match unbeaten against Palermo. 

Conte highlighted the contribution of Stefan de Vrij, Alessandro Bastoni and Milan Skriniar, comparing them to the heralded triumvirate of Leonardo Bonucci, Giorgino Chiellini and Andrea Barzagli, who he coached at Juventus. 

"When, in my first year at Juventus, I coached Barzagli, Bonucci and Chiellini, they were young, and they had won nothing before," he said. 

"We have begun a new project here, and I can see many similarities with De Vrij, Bastoni and Skriniar.

"If we win this season, they will begin a path where the Scudetto can bring more self-esteem. Never forget, Bonucci, Chiellini and Barzagli were virgins in terms of victories when I arrived.

"At Chelsea, it was different. Some players had already won, they had more experience."

Inter took another significant stride towards a first Serie A title since 2009-10 after a hard-fought 1-0 win over Hellas Verona at San Siro on Sunday. 

The result means Antonio Conte's side are 13 points clear at the league summit, although that could be scaled back to 10 if Milan overcome Lazio on Monday. 

Inter struggled for long periods against Verona, but sealed a 13th consecutive Serie A home win for just the second time in their history 14 minutes from full-time courtesy of substitute Matteo Darmian. 

The wing-back powered forward, collected Achraf Hakimi's pass and slotted past Marco Silvestri from 10 yards to help his side return to winning ways after two draws in the top flight.

Inter started sluggishly and could have fallen behind shortly after the midway point of the first half.

Samir Handanovic got down well to keep out Daniel Bessa's initial effort before Federico Dimarco dragged his follow-up strike narrowly wide with the goal at his mercy.

The hosts rarely looked like scoring during a tepid opening 45 minutes and went in at the break having had just a solitary shot on target.

Lautaro Martinez was denied by Silvestri shortly after the hour as Inter continued to struggle following the restart.

Hakimi went agonisingly close to breaking the deadlock after 69 minutes but his superb 25-yard free-kick crashed against Silvestri's left-hand post.

With Martinez and Romelu Lukaku misfiring, it was left to Darmian to snatch three points, the former Manchester United man showing superb composure to slot home his third league goal of the season in the 76th minute.

Lionel Messi has been tipped to leave Barcelona for either Manchester City or Paris Saint-Germain.

Barca have also been linked with Borussia Dortmund's Erling Haaland.

But Haaland could reportedly unlock Messi's future.

 

TOP STORY – HAALAND TO CITY MEANS BARCA STAY FOR MESSI?

Borussia Dortmund star Erling Haaland could hold the key to Lionel Messi's future at Barcelona, according to the front page of Thursday's Diario AS.

Haaland is a player in demand, linked with Barca, Manchester City, Real Madrid, Manchester United, Chelsea, Liverpool, Juventus and Paris Saint-Germain.

City have been tipped to sign Messi, but should they step up their pursuit of Haaland, the Premier League leaders could reportedly drop their interest in the Barca captain.

 

ROUND-UP

- Mundo Deportivo says new Barca president Joan Laporta is preparing a contract renewal for Messi, who is set to become a free agent at season's end.

- Bayern Munich are eyeing a move for Tottenham star Son Heung-min, claims Football Insider. Son has reportedly been offered a bumper new contract by Spurs, but the former Bayer Leverkusen forward is wanted in Munich.

- Sporting CP's Joao Palhinha, Borussia Monchengladbach star Denis Zakaria and Sander Berge of Sheffield United are on the list of midfielders to replace City veteran Fernandinho, reports A Bola.

- Gazzetta dello Sport says Juventus and Barca are interested in Milan captain Alessio Romagnoli. The Italy defender is out of contract in 2022 and is reportedly seeking a €6million-a-year contract.

Napoli are eyeing Lazio head coach Simone Inzaghi and sporting director Igli Tare, claims Radio Kiss Kiss Napoli. Gennaro Gattuso has been tipped to leave Napoli at the end of the season, with ex-Juve boss Massimiliano Allegri, Luciano Spalletti and Hellas Verona's Ivan Juric among the possible replacements. But Lazio duo Inzaghi and Tare are being monitored to replace Gattuso and Cristiano Giuntoli in Naples.

United are interested in Lille defender Sven Botman, according to Fabrizio Romano. Sevilla star Jules Kounde has been on United's radar but the club's asking price of €80m (£68m) is too steep.

- Romano also says there is no agreement with United and Paul Pogba over a new contract. Pogba has been linked with former club Juve, Madrid and PSG.

Manchester City have been linked with Erling Haaland.

As Sergio Aguero appears headed for an exit, Pep Guardiola wants to bolster his attack.

But Danny Ings has reportedly emerged as an alternative to the expensive and in-demand Haaland.

 

TOP STORY – CITY TARGET INGS

Manchester City are considering a move for Southampton star Danny Ings, according to Sky Sports.

City's all-time leading goalscorer Sergio Aguero is out of contract at the end of the season and no closer to extending his deal in Manchester.

Pep Guardiola's City are reportedly among the admirers of Borussia Dortmund sensation Erling Haaland, who has also been linked with Real Madrid, Barcelona, Manchester United, Chelsea, Paris Saint-Germain, Liverpool and Juventus.

With Haaland set to command a huge fee, City are eyeing former Liverpool forward Ings as a cheaper alternative.

 

ROUND-UP

- Gazzetta dello Sport and Corriere dello Sport report Juventus head coach Andrea Pirlo is on the brink of being sacked. Juve are out of the Champions League and 10 points off the pace following their shock loss to Benevento. Former boss Massimiliano Allegri has been linked with a return, while La Repubblica claims Atalanta's Gian Piero Gasperini, Lazio coach Simone Inzaghi and Luciano Spalletti are on a three-man shortlist.

- Former Chelsea and Juventus boss Maurizio Sarri is Roma's number one option should they sack head coach Paulo Fonseca, says Gazzetta dello Sport. Fonseca – under pressure in the Italian capital – has also been linked with Napoli, alongside Hellas Verona's Ivan Juric. Napoli coach Gennaro Gattuso has been linked with Fiorentina, Torino and Bologna.

Neymar re-signing with Ligue 1 holders PSG is "just a matter of time", according to Fabrizio Romano.

Aaron Ramsey is interested in a move to Premier League champions Liverpool, according to Calciomercato. The Juventus midfielder, who left Arsenal for Turin in 2019, is seen as a possible replacement for rumoured Barca target Georginio Wijnaldum at Anfield.

- The Daily Express reports Arsenal are eyeing Barcelona misfit Philippe Coutinho. However, a move will depend on whether Arsenal sign loanee Martin Odegaard permanently from Madrid.

Xabi Alonso is set to become the new head coach of Borussia Monchengladbach next season, replacing Dortmund-bound Marco Rose. Romano, however, insists no contract has been signed as the former Bayern Munich star remains in charge of Real Sociedad's B team.

Stefano Pioli felt Milan showed they have the belief in their ability to sustain a challenge for trophies in a 2-0 Serie A win at Hellas Verona on Sunday.

Rade Krunic and Diogo Dalot scored superb first Serie A goals to move second-placed Milan three points behind leaders Inter.

Krunic opened the scoring with a sublime first-half free-kick and Dalot doubled their lead with a classy strike early in the second half.

Rossoneri head coach Pioli was proud of the way his side extended their unbeaten run to four matches ahead of a Europa League round-of-16 first-leg tie at Manchester United on Thursday.

He told Sky Sport Italia. "We have shown that we have belief. It was a difficult match."

Pioli added: "We are not Martians, we are a young team of the which everyone was proud of and which everyone now asks for continuity.

"But we know how to overcome our defects, we know our strength and merits."

Theo Hernandez and Ante Rebic were added to Milan's injury list following the draw with Udinese, but Pioli says they will not complain about absentees, with Zlatan Ibrahimovic also sidelined.

He said: "We were good at not feeling sorry for ourselves, we must be balanced in evaluating our performance, even when we win."

Rade Krunic and Diogo Dalot scored their first Serie A goals for Milan in an impressive 2-0 victory at Hellas Verona.

Krunic opened the scoring with a brilliant first-half free-kick and Dalot doubled Milan's lead with a classy strike early in the second period at Marcantonio Bentegodi on Sunday.

Stefano Pioli’s side should have won by a more emphatic margin, but victory moved them three points behind leaders Inter, who play Atalanta on Monday.

The Rossoneri are now unbeaten in four matches ahead of a Europa League encounter with Manchester United on Thursday.

Milan made a positive start and they should have been in front when Rafael Leao headed Davide Calabria's whipped delivery over the crossbar.

Pioli's men continued to pose an attacking threat and Krunic made the breakthrough 27 minutes in, finding the far corner of the net with a sublime free-kick after he was upended by Giangiacomo Magnani at full tilt.

Striker Leao twice fired over to ensure Verona trailed by just the one goal at the end of a one-sided first half.

But Dalot put Milan two up just four minutes into the second half with a sublime finish, finding the top-right corner of the net with his right foot after throwing a clever dummy just outside the penalty area.

Alexis Saelemaekers came close to a third goal when he drilled a venomous strike over the bar as Verona struggled to contain Milan.

Federico Ceccherini headed wide at the other end with around 14 minutes to go and Krunic cleared Marco Faraoni’s header off the line as Milan secured three precious points.

 

Andrea Pirlo felt Juventus did not have enough leaders who could "understand the moment" as they threw away two points at Hellas Verona in Serie A action on Saturday.

Defending Serie A champions Juve were heading for a second victory of the week after Cristiano Ronaldo netted early for the visitors in the second half.

But Antonin Barak's header 13 minutes from time rescued a point for Verona, who might then have snatched victory during the closing stages as Wojciech Szczesny saved smartly from influential substitute Darko Lazovic.

Juve head coach Pirlo was disappointed with the way the Bianconeri slipped up from a position of strength, having been made to work hard for their lead against a side they have failed to beat in three attempts.

"We're sorry because we knew it was going to be a difficult, dirty game," Pirlo told DAZN.

"We had interpreted it well. We were also able to take the lead, which was the hardest thing, but then we couldn't keep the result.

"We lacked a bit of aggression, especially for the goal. It was necessary to prevent [Lazovic] from crossing easily.

"These are issues that, unfortunately, the young players still do not understand, because these make the difference and make you take home points."

When Aaron Ramsey was substituted 22 minutes from time, six of the remaining Juve players were aged 23 or younger. Alessandro Di Pardo, introduced in place of Federico Chiesa late on, was a seventh.

Meanwhile, only Alex Sandro (147), Rodrigo Bentancur (102), Federico Bernardeschi (98), goalkeeper Szczesny (92) and Ronaldo (84) had made more than 50 league appearances for Juve.

Amid the lack of experience, Pirlo turned to Alex Sandro and Ronaldo to lift their colleagues, failing to do so as the defender was outjumped for Barak's leveller while the scorer of the opener ended the game having hit the target with only two of his seven attempts.

"When you have the advantage in these games, you have to try to bring it home," Pirlo added.

"But there was a lack of experienced players, many young players, therefore few who made themselves heard and understood the moment of the game.

"In fact, I asked Cristiano and Alex to make themselves heard, to make people understand the moment, but unfortunately there were too few [leaders].

"It's a shame to have dropped two points, because the most difficult thing was to take the lead and we had to make better use of this opportunity."

Juventus suffered another setback in their bid to rein in Serie A leaders Inter as they could only draw 1-1 at Hellas Verona on Saturday.

The defending champions are third but had the opportunity to close within five points of the frontrunners ahead of their game the following day.

Although the Bianconeri were made to work hard by Verona, they looked to be on course when Cristiano Ronaldo netted his 26th goal of the season early in the second half.

But Antonin Barak's header gave Verona a point they deserved, extending their unbeaten league run against Juve to three matches for the first time since the 1980s.

Juve made a rapid start and Aaron Ramsey had a low shot touched wide, but the best attempt of the first half soon followed at the other end as Wojciech Szczesny turned Marco Faraoni's header onto the crossbar.

The pace of the game slowed thereafter, although Marco Silvestri was asked to push away a Federico Chiesa effort.

The breakthrough goal arrived four minutes into the second period when Chiesa turned provider and squared to Ronaldo, whose finish slipped beyond Silvestri.

Juve failed to build on that strike, though, and Verona recovered a foothold and eventually parity as Barak towered over Alex Sandro from substitute Darko Lazovic's cross.

Verona looked the more likely to forge a winner, with Szczesny expertly denying Lazovic, but they settled instead for a point that means Juve are winless in three on the road in all competitions.

Napoli head coach Gennaro Gattuso said "you can't just go to the supermarket and ask for €10 of determination" as the club continue to stutter following a shock loss at Hellas Verona.

Gattuso's Napoli lost for the second time in five days after being overhauled 3-1 by Verona in Serie A action on Sunday.

Napoli were beaten 2-0 by rivals Juventus in the Supercoppa Italiana on Wednesday, and they tasted defeat again, despite Hirving Lozano's memorable opener.

Lozano broke the deadlock after just 8.95 seconds – the third fastest goal in Serie A history, behind Rafael Leao (2020) and Paolo Poggi (2001).

Excluding penalty goals, only Cristiano Ronaldo (11) and Luis Muriel (10) have scored more than Lozano (nine) this season in Serie A.

But that was as good as it got for Napoli, who conceded an equaliser prior to half-time before Antonin Barak and Mattia Zaccagni secured maximum points for hosts Verona.

Napoli – sixth in the standings, two points outside the top four and nine adrift of leaders Milan – have only won three of their past eight league matches as Gattuso voiced his frustration post-game.

"I make the decisions, so when we don't win, it's my responsibility. It's disappointing, because we had the right game-plan, we made it difficult for them, created four or five scoring opportunities in the first half and could've killed the game," Gattuso – who is yet to sign a new contract despite speculation – told Sky Sport Italia.

"The regret is that we could've done so much and kept wasting it. We were always four against four and didn’t make the right passes. We know this Verona side loves to play physical football, so we started to do what they wanted.

"All teams have ups and downs this season, we need to clear our minds. I expect what we prepare during the week. We played the first half exactly the way we wanted to, but we did everything wrong in the second half.

"We made the wrong choices. It's not easy, you can't just go to the supermarket and ask for €10 of determination. It can't be brought out of the players just by saying it. It's about the interpretation of the game, we had one in the first half and a totally different attitude after the break."

It was the first time Napoli lost to Verona since suffering a 2-0 Serie A defeat in 2015.

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