Inter's Hakan Calhanoglu celebrates with Lautaro Martinez and Henrikh Mkhitaryan. Alamy Stock Photo

Leaders Inter dish out Milan derby destruction, Barcelona shred Real Betis

New arrivals Joao Felix and Joao Cancelo were both on target for Barcelona in an impressive 5-0 rout of Real Betis.

INTER MILAN LAID down an early title marker on Saturday by handing out a 5-1 derby hammering to AC Milan and going it alone at the Serie A summit, while champions Napoli were held 2-2 at promoted Genoa.

Four wins from their opening four matches have Inter leading the pack with a perfect 12 points, two ahead of their other fierce rivals Juventus who beat Lazio 3-1 in the day’s early match.

Milan sit a further point back in third after a humiliating first defeat of the season before they welcome Newcastle United in the Champions League on Tuesday.

Spurred on by the majority of a heaving and raucous San Siro crowd, Inter claimed their fifth straight derby win in all competitions thanks to a Henrikh Mkhitaryan brace, Marcus Thuram’s rocket and two late strikes from Hakan Calhanoglu and Davide Frattesi.

Simone Inzaghi’s side claimed the points with a display which showed why they got past Milan to reach last season’s Champions League final and confirmed their status as early favourites to beat their local rivals to a 20th Scudetto.

“We’ve started the season brilliantly and we want to keep going,” Mkhitaryan told DAZN.

“We’re all here for the same goal, and I don’t care who plays… the coach will pick whoever gives their all for the second star (on the shirt for 20 titles).”

Thuram continued his fast start in an Inter shirt, the new man also crucial to Mkhitaryan’s fifth-minute opener.

Napoli’s title defence continued to stutter at Genoa where the champions came back from two goals down to snatch a point late on.

Rudi Garcia’s side, beaten by Lazio before the international break, trail Inter by five points following the draw at the Stadio Luigi Ferraris which came thanks to strikes in the final 15 minutes from Italy internationals Giacomo Raspadori and Matteo Politano.

“We’ve got work to do, but we had very little time to prepare for this match because a lot of players only came back (from international duty) yesterday,” said Politano to Sky Sport in Italy.

Mattia Bani headed Genoa into the lead five minutes before the break before Italy striker Mateo Retegui swept in the hosts’ second from Kevin Strootman’s pass in the 56th minute.

Retegui has scored twice since signing from Boca Juniors in July and Saturday’s strike looked likely to give Genoa a stunning second win of the campaign.

But Napoli didn’t give up and were back in it when Raspadori arrowed in his first goal of the season in the 76th minute.

And Politano salvaged a draw for Napoli with six minutes remaining with a brilliant volley from Piotr Zielinski’s lofted pass.

Elsewhere, new arrivals Joao Felix and Joao Cancelo struck their first goals for Barcelona in an impressive 5-0 rout of Real Betis in La Liga.

barcelonas-joao-felix-celebrates-after-scoring-his-sides-first-goal-during-a-spanish-la-liga-soccer-match-between-barcelona-and-betis-at-the-olympic-stadium-of-montjuic-in-barcelona-spain-saturday Barcelona's Joao Felix. Alamy Stock Photo Alamy Stock Photo

Portugal forward Felix fired Barcelona ahead, with further goals from Robert Lewandowski, Ferran Torres and Raphinha sinking the visitors, before Cancelo polished off the rout with a fine individual effort.

Barcelona’s emphatic victory places them provisionally top of the table, a point clear of rivals Real Madrid who host Real Sociedad on Sunday.

Earlier, Atletico coach Diego Simeone said his team put in their “weakest” performance of his 12-year reign in a 3-0 thrashing by Valencia.

Los Che have started the season well after flirting with relegation until the final day of the previous campaign, and this was their best performance yet under coach Ruben Baraja.

Simeone has faced many different Valencia coaches over almost 12 years in charge and had only lost twice before this defeat at Mestalla in 28 clashes.

“We had the weakest game since I arrived at the club, and we have to congratulate our opponents,” said Simeone.

Defeat was the worst way for Atletico to prepare for the start of their Champions League campaign on Tuesday at Lazio.

Spanish striker Duro, 23, slid in at the near post to fire into the roof of Oblak’s net after just five minutes.

The forward kept his composure to beat the Slovenian goalkeeper again when sent through on goal by Fran Perez after shrugging off Axel Witsel.

Javi Guerra struck the third goal with a fine solo move and finish inside Oblak’s near post as Los Che continued to dominate.

Valencia could have increased their lead but Oblak saved well from Diego Lopez in the final stages, among other openings.

“I am not at all angry, I know the players we have, the group in the dressing room, but I accept it when we’ve played a bad match,” added Simeone.

Earlier Athletic Bilbao earned a convincing 3-0 win over Cadiz.

– © AFP 2023 

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