Inter experience huge setback to Serie A hopes after losing 1-0 to Empoli
Tommaso Baldanzi of Empoli celebrates after scoring the winning goal against Inter at San Siro on Monday.

In a huge setback to their title aspirations, Inter suffered a 1-0 defeat against Empoli at San Siro on Monday, also missing an opportunity to bypass the city rivals Milan and gain the second spot on the table.

They are now 13 points behind the Serie A leaders Napoli who have gained 50 points so far, thus becoming a strong favourite for their third Italian league title. Milan are second with 38 points followed by Inter with 37.

On the other hand, Empoli moved up three places into ninth after their first competitive win over Inter since 2006.

Inter went down to ten men in the first half when Milan Skriniar was shown two yellow cards, but Simone Inzaghi’s side still produced a lacklustre display as the visitors went on to snatch the victory thanks to driven strike in the second half from substitute Tommaso Baldanzi.

The closest chance in the entire first half fell to Empoli’s Nicolo Cambiaghi in the 12th minute, but his shot was well parried by Andre Onana.

Inter never got going in a scrappy half where five yellow cards were issued. Two of those were handed to Skriniar, who has already irritated Inter fans in the last week by rejecting the club’s offer of a contract extension.

The Slovakian’s first yellow was for a late challenge on Tyronne Ebuehi before he was rightly shown a second for a high boot into the back of Francesco Caputo’s bandaged head as he went to clear the ball.

Inter were equally sluggish in the second half and it was Empoli who deservedly went in front in the 65th minute.

Just a minute after coming off the bench, Baldanzi finished off a fine counter-attack and drilled his strike underneath Onana into the centre of the net.

The hosts came closest to equalising in the 77th minute when Stefan de Vrij won a header from a corner, but his effort crashed off the crossbar.

Empoli held on for an excellent victory to end Inter’s unbeaten run which stretches back to a 2-0 loss to Juventus on November 6.

Team selection was arguably a factor in the defeat with Edin Dzeko and Romelu Lukaku only coming off the bench as Inzaghi opted for out-of-form Lautaro Martinez up front alongside Joaquin Correa, but Inter did not show any intensity until both strikers were brought on the pitch late on.

The story was filed by the News Desk. The Desk can be reached at info@thecorrespondent.com.pk.

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