Mauro Icardi scores winning penalty to boost Inter past Sampdoria


Mauro Icardi slotted home a match-winning penalty for the second consecutive game as Inter Milan defeated previously unbeaten Sampdoria 1-0 on Wednesday evening. Samp were unlucky not to take a lead into half-time after Alfred Duncan hit the crossbar. Argentinian striker Icardi came to the rescue in the 90th minute with his spot-kick, which was awarded when defender Alessio Romagnoli fouled substitute Zdravko Kuzmanovic in the area. Icardi had also scored the only goal of the game from the spot in Inter's 1-0 triumph at Cesena on Sunday. Inter climbed to within seven points of league leaders Juventus, who lost 1-0 at Genoa. Samp suffered defeat for the first time and are fourth in the standings, level on 16 points with AC Milan, who are third. Inter forward Rodrigo Palacio, looking to score his first league goal this season, was first to test Sampdoria's Sergio Romero in the 12th minute. Hernanes fed Palacio in the box and the Argentinian's right-footed effort was kept out by the visiting goalkeeper. Midway through the first half, Palacio spotted Icardi in the box but his powerful header was saved by Romero. The visitors had their first shot on goal in the 26th minute when Pedro Obiang's hard strike from 30 yards was kept out by Inter goalkeeper Samir Handanovic. Shortly after, Manolo Gabbiadini saw his header from Lorenzo De Silvestri's cross fly wide of the far post. In the 39th minute, Romero had to fully stretch to clear Icardi's angled drive to the far post as Inter got closer. Samp almost silenced the crowd at San Siro when Duncan surged past his marker and struck a left-footed shot from the heart of the area that beat Handanovic but found the woodwork. The hosts had a good chance to break the deadlock four minutes into the second half when Mateo Kovacic set up Palacio in the box but the South American sent his shot wide with only Romero left to beat. At the other end, Stefano Okaka's drive from outside the area tested Handanovic and he was equal to the task. Handanovic was called on again to make a save before the hour mark from Gabbiadini's 30-yard attempt. Inter pressed forward more aggressively and in the 63rd minute Romero did well to clear Kuzmanovic's effort from the heart of the area. With 11 minutes remaining, Palacio's frustration continued as he struck the ball wide from a good position. Handanovic pulled off a great save three minutes from time to clear Eder's goal-bound attempt from Stefano Okaka's dangeous pass. Soon after, Inter went in front with Icardi's penalty. Romero guessed correctly and dived to his left but could not get a touch on Icardi's perfect shot.