Inter Milan earn hard-fought win over Empoli with Keita Balde strike
Empoli 0 - 1 Inter Milan

Inter Milan earn hard-fought win over Empoli with Keita Balde strike

02/01/2019

Third-placed Inter Milan needed a second-half goal from Keita Balde to earn a hard-fought win away to lowly Empoli in Serie A on Saturday as midfielder Radja Nainggolan returned to the side following his suspension for indiscipline.

The Senegal international met Sime Vrsaljko's low cross with a first-time shot on the turn in the 72nd minute as Inter reached the halfway mark of the championship with 39 points, 14 behind leaders Juventus.

It was Inter's third 1-0 win in their last four league matches, although they performed in fits and starts and needed a good save by Samir Handanovic from Miha Zajc to prevent Empoli going ahead at the start of the second half.

Promoted Empoli's fourth successive league defeat left them 17th in table with 16 points, one place above the relegation zone.

Nainggolan started on the bench before coming on in the second half and coach Luciano Spalletti said that the Belgian sometimes put "other things" in front of football.

"I brought him on because I thought he could give us some help and it was the right decision," Spalletti told reporters. "We want what is good for him, he's a sensitive lad and he has all the right qualities.

"Sometimes, he is attracted by other things and if someone puts too many other things in front of football, they don't win."

The coach was happy with the way his team approached the game, especially after they were held 1-1 at table-propping Chievo in their last away match.

"These are games where you can easily slip up if you don't have the right mentality," he said. "We didn't play too well in the first period, but we did better in the second half due to their energy levels dropping off."

Related news

Callejon, Milik goals help Napoli hang on for win over 10-man Lazio

Callejon, Milik goals help Napoli hang on for win over 10-man Lazio

Napoli scored twice before half-time and hit the woodwork three times before clinging on for a 2-1 victory over 10-man Lazio in Serie A on Sunday.

Inter draw a blank vs. Sassuolo in front of crowd of school children

Inter draw a blank vs. Sassuolo in front of crowd of school children

Inter Milan's poor run against Sassuolo continued on Saturday as they were held to a 0-0 home draw in Serie A in front of a crowd of school children.

Roma edge Torino in five-goal Serie A thriller

Roma edge Torino in five-goal Serie A thriller

AS Roma survived a second-half fightback to end Torino's unbeaten Serie A away record with a 3-2 win thanks to Stephan El Shaarawy's late goal at the Stadio Olimpico on Saturday.

Cristiano Ronaldo secures Italian Super Cup glory for Juventus

Cristiano Ronaldo secures Italian Super Cup glory for Juventus

Cristiano Ronaldo's second-half goal secured a record eighth Italian Super Cup victory for Juventus as they beat AC Milan 1-0 in the Saudi Arabian city of Jeddah on Wednesday.

Arkadiusz Milik sets up Napoli win over Sassuolo in Coppa Italia

Arkadiusz Milik sets up Napoli win over Sassuolo in Coppa Italia

Napoli striker Arkadiusz Milik scored one goal and provided an assist for another as his side beat Sassuolo 2-0 in a Coppa Italia round of 16 tie on Sunday.

Inter Milan thump Benevento in Coppa Italia match behind closed doors

Inter Milan thump Benevento in Coppa Italia match behind closed doors

Antonio Candreva and Lautaro Martinez scored two goals apiece as Inter Milan thumped Benevento 6-2 on Sunday in a Coppa Italia match played behind closed doors following racist insults aimed at Napoli defender Kalidou Koulibaly last month.

Ronaldo starts from bench as Juventus ease into Coppa Italia quarters

Ronaldo starts from bench as Juventus ease into Coppa Italia quarters

Cristiano Ronaldo was among several regular players who didn't start though defending champion Juventus nevertheless eased into the quarterfinals of the Coppa Italia on Saturday.

Patrick Cutrone sends Milan to Coppa Italia quarterfinals with double against Sampdoria

Patrick Cutrone sends Milan to Coppa Italia quarterfinals with double against Sampdoria

Patrick Cutrone came off the bench to fire AC Milan into the Coppa Italia quarterfinals on Saturday.

Milan and Higuain end goal droughts in win over SPAL

Milan and Higuain end goal droughts in win over SPAL

AC Milan ended a four-match goal drought and striker Gonzalo Higuain was on target for the first time in two months as they came from behind to beat SPAL 2-1 in Serie A on Saturday.

RELATED NEWS

Callejon, Milik goals help Napoli hang on for win over 10-man Lazio
Napoli 2 - 1 Lazio

Callejon, Milik goals help Napoli hang on for win over 10-man Lazio

Napoli scored twice before half-time and hit the woodwork three times before clinging on for a 2-1 victory over 10-man Lazio in Serie A on Sunday.

Inter draw a blank vs. Sassuolo in front of crowd of school children
Inter 0 - 0 Sassuolo

Inter draw a blank vs. Sassuolo in front of crowd of school children

Inter Milan's poor run against Sassuolo continued on Saturday as they were held to a 0-0 home draw in Serie A in front of a crowd of school children.

Roma edge Torino in five-goal Serie A thriller
Roma 3 - 2 Torino

Roma edge Torino in five-goal Serie A thriller

AS Roma survived a second-half fightback to end Torino's unbeaten Serie A away record with a 3-2 win thanks to Stephan El Shaarawy's late goal at the Stadio Olimpico on Saturday.

Cristiano Ronaldo secures Italian Super Cup glory for Juventus
Juventus 1 - 0 Milan

Cristiano Ronaldo secures Italian Super Cup glory for Juventus

Cristiano Ronaldo's second-half goal secured a record eighth Italian Super Cup victory for Juventus as they beat AC Milan 1-0 in the Saudi Arabian city of Jeddah on Wednesday.

Arkadiusz Milik sets up Napoli win over Sassuolo in Coppa Italia
Napoli 2 - 0 Sassuolo

Arkadiusz Milik sets up Napoli win over Sassuolo in Coppa Italia

Napoli striker Arkadiusz Milik scored one goal and provided an assist for another as his side beat Sassuolo 2-0 in a Coppa Italia round of 16 tie on Sunday.

Inter Milan thump Benevento in Coppa Italia match behind closed doors
Inter Milan 6 - 2 Benevento

Inter Milan thump Benevento in Coppa Italia match behind closed doors

Antonio Candreva and Lautaro Martinez scored two goals apiece as Inter Milan thumped Benevento 6-2 on Sunday in a Coppa Italia match played behind closed doors following racist insults aimed at Napoli defender Kalidou Koulibaly last month.

Ronaldo starts from bench as Juventus ease into Coppa Italia quarters
Bologna 0 - 2 Juventus

Ronaldo starts from bench as Juventus ease into Coppa Italia quarters

Cristiano Ronaldo was among several regular players who didn't start though defending champion Juventus nevertheless eased into the quarterfinals of the Coppa Italia on Saturday.

Patrick Cutrone sends Milan to Coppa Italia quarterfinals with double against Sampdoria
Sampdoria 0 - 2 Milan

Patrick Cutrone sends Milan to Coppa Italia quarterfinals with double against Sampdoria

Patrick Cutrone came off the bench to fire AC Milan into the Coppa Italia quarterfinals on Saturday.

Milan and Higuain end goal droughts in win over SPAL
Milan 2 - 1 SPAL

Milan and Higuain end goal droughts in win over SPAL

AC Milan ended a four-match goal drought and striker Gonzalo Higuain was on target for the first time in two months as they came from behind to beat SPAL 2-1 in Serie A on Saturday.