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Inter moves to within 1 point of Serie A leader with 1-0 win

Defending Serie A champion Inter Milan moved to within one point of league leader and city rival AC Milan with a 2-0 win against Hellas Verona on Saturday.

Ivan Perišić set up both first-half goals for Nicolò Barella and Edin Džeko.

Milan visits Torino on Sunday. Both Milan teams have played the same number of games as Inter still has to play a postponed match against Bologna. Napoli, which hosts Fiorentina on Sunday, is level on points with Inter.

Inter Milan's Edin Dzeko celebrates after scoring his side's second goal during the Serie A soccer match between Inter Milan and Hellas Verona at the San Siro Stadium, in Milan, Italy, Saturday, April 9, 2022. (AP PhotoLuca Bruno)

Fourth-place Juventus played at relegation-threatened Cagliari later Saturday.

Inter was buoyed by a 1-0 win at Juventus last weekend but without its top scorer against Verona as Lautaro Martínez was suspended.

Perišić almost scored in the 18th minute but Verona goalkeeper Lorenzo Montipò pulled off a fantastic save to deny the Inter forward.

Inter Milan's Edin Dzeko, third from left, scores his side's second goal during the Serie A soccer match between Inter Milan and Hellas Verona at the San Siro Stadium, in Milan, Italy, Saturday, April 9, 2022. (AP PhotoLuca Bruno)

However, the Croatia international set up the opener four minutes later as he raced down the left flank from the halfway line and crossed for Barella to fire into the roof of the net.

Inter doubled its lead in the 30th minute when Perišić headed on a corner for Džeko to drive into the bottom left corner.

It was the 36-year-old Džeko’s 17th goal of the season in all competitions.

Inter Milan's head coach Simone Inzaghi gives instructions during the Serie A soccer match between Inter Milan and Hellas Verona at the San Siro Stadium, in Milan, Italy, Saturday, April 9, 2022. (AP PhotoLuca Bruno)

Verona had chances to get back into the match but was prevented from doing so by a mix of wayward finishing and fine saves from Samir Handanović.

Inter almost scored a third in the 73rd minute but Montipò pushed Danilo D’Ambrosio's effort onto the post.

RELEGATION FIGHT

Inter Milan's Nicolo Barella celebrates after scoring his side's opening goal during the Serie A soccer match between Inter Milan and Hellas Verona at the San Siro Stadium, in Milan, Italy, Saturday, April 9, 2022. (AP PhotoLuca Bruno)

Empoli and Spezia moved further away from the bottom three with a 0-0 draw.

Empoli goalkeeper Guglielmo Vicario and his Spezia counterpart, Ivan Provedel, pulled off a number of good saves to keep the scoreline goalless.

Spezia was 11 points ahead of the relegation zone, and one point below Empoli.

Inter Milan's Nicolo Barella, left, scores his side's opening goal during the Serie A soccer match between Inter Milan and Hellas Verona at the San Siro Stadium, in Milan, Italy, Saturday, April 9, 2022. (AP PhotoLuca Bruno)

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Inter Milan's head coach Simone Inzaghi, left, embraces Verona's head coach Igor Tudor prior to the start of the Serie A soccer match between Inter Milan and Hellas Verona at the San Siro Stadium, in Milan, Italy, Saturday, April 9, 2022. (AP PhotoLuca Bruno)