MILAN (Reuters) - Inter Milan notched up their seventh successive Serie A victory when they thumped mid-table Genoa 5-0 at San Siro on Saturday thanks to two players who have played only bit-part roles so far this season.
Midfielder Roberto Gagliardini, starting his fourth game out of 11, scored twice while midfielder Joao Mario, who made his first appearance of the season against Lazio on Monday, set up three goals and scored one.
The win sent Inter back into second place with 25 points from 11 games, ahead of Napoli — who beat Empoli 5-1 on Friday — on goal difference. Inter are three points behind leaders Juventus, who host Cagliari later on Saturday.
“Roberto was unhappy at being left out against Lazio but his performance today reflects how seriously and professionally he approaches training,” said coach Luciano Spalletti, whose Inter side host Barcelona in the Champions League on Tuesday.
“The same goes for Joao Mario who again proved how important he can be for us.”
Despite resting striker Mauro Icardi, Inter took the lead when Joao Mario’s pass was swept home by Gagliardini in the 14th minute and two minutes later the Portuguese Euro 2016 winner’s through ball was poked home by Matteo Politano.
Genoa had given AC Milan plenty of problems when they lost 2-1 at the same stadium on Wednesday but were totally overrun by Inter who increased their lead three minutes after halftime.
Ionut Radu managed to save an Ivan Perisic shot at point-blank range but Gagliardini was on hand to turn in the rebound.
Joao Mario capped a fine display when he scored with low shot from the edge of the area in stoppage time and provided a cross for Radja Nainggolan to head the fifth with the last move of the match.
“The thing that satisfies me the most is to see those 70,000 fans who today came to support us and who applauded our performance,” said Spalletti.
Writing by Brian Homewood; Editing by Ken Ferris