VENICE, Italy (Reuters) -Inter Milan beat Venezia 2-0 after Hakan Calhanoglu thrashed home a first-half strike and Lautaro Martinez converted a penalty with the last kick of the game as the champions closed the gap on the top two teams in Serie A on Saturday.
Third-placed Inter are now one point behind pacesetters Napoli and AC Milan, who both have home matches on Sunday when they can restore their four-point advantage.
Inter dominated early on at Venezia, who are back in the top flight after an absence of almost two decades, but in the end the visitors were hanging on for the win.
Calhanoglu skied a free kick in the opening 20 minutes and Edin Dzeko pressed for the opener as he kept the defence busy.
But it was not until the 34th that Inter made the breakthrough after quick passing on the edge of the area set up Calhanoglu to strike a powerful low shot into the net.
Venezia’s Antonio Vacca tested Samir Handanovic in the 39th minute with a long-range shot that the goalkeeper acrobatically tipped over and after the break they had another chance when substitute Tanner Tessman made space but blasted high.
Inter looked nervy in the closing stages as Venezia pressed for an equaliser although Federico Dimarco and Dzeko had late efforts well stopped by home keeper Sergio Romero.
However, Inter were then awarded a spot kick, after a VAR check deep in stoppage time for handball against Ridgeciano Haps, which Martinez converted.
“It was the third game in six days, an unusual thing but we had a game of personality, playing very well because we wanted to win it and continue on our path to improvement,” Inter coach Simone Inzaghi told DAZN.
“The only problem against a team that is doing very well is not having closed it out earlier. It’s a well deserved victory that closes an excellent week.”
The defeat left Venezia in 15th place and ended a run of two successive wins.
(Writing by Mark Gleeson; Editing by Clare Fallon and Ken Ferris)