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Red-hot Martinez helps move Inter top as Kvaratskhelia revives Napoli

Lautaro Martinez continued his red-hot scoring form in Inter Milan’s 3-0 cruise at Torino on Saturday which moved his team top of Serie A while Khvicha Kvaratskhelia’s brace at Verona put Napoli’s title defence back on track.

Argentina striker Martinez nodded home his 11th league goal of the season in the 67th minute of a straightforward win in Turin as Inter went one point ahead of AC Milan, who host third-placed Juventus on Sunday night.

The 26-year-old is already five goals ahead of Victor Osimhen, his nearest rival at the top of the scoring charts, after just nine matches and at his current rate would smash the record single-season haul of 36 set by Gonzalo Higuain in 2016.

Since the departure of Edin Dzeko and Romelu Lukaku in the summer Martinez has become the attacking focal point for Inter who are also the highest scorers in Italy’s top flight with 24 goals.

“Lauti only got back from South America a day and a half ago, but he is in great shape and he gets all the support he could need from the team,” said coach Simone Inzaghi to DAZN.

Strike partner Marcus Thuram opened the scoring eight minutes before Martinez’s strike when he swept home Denzel Dumfries low pass to take his league tally to three, while Hakan Calhanoglu completed the scoring from the penalty spot in stoppage time.

France forward Thuram has had a brilliant start in Italy, where he was born while his World Cup-winning father Lilian played for a star-studded Parma team which won the UEFA Cup in 1999, with five assists also to his name.

Asked how he has settled in at Inter, a delighted Thuram said “very well”.

“This is a great team, and I’m really happy to be able to contribute,” he said to DAZN.

Inzaghi will likely play both Martinez and Thuram on Tuesday when Inter host Salzburg in the first of two Champions League Group D matches against the Austrians.

Inter will almost certainly come up against fiercer resistance at the San Siro than they did from Torino who have now gone four matches without scoring a goal.

Ivan Juric’s injury-hit team were without starting centre-forward Duvan Zapata and are set to lose defender Perr Schuurs for a long time after he was stretchered off with a knee injury following a clash with Nicolo Barella.

Torino look destined for another underwhelming season as they sit 14th on nine points, one point and place behind Sassuolo who were beaten 2-0 by Lazio in the day’s late match.

•          Kvaratskhelia strikes –

Wing wizard Kvaratskhelia netted in each half after Matteo Politano’s 27th-minute opener in a 3-1 win at Verona as Napoli made light of the absence of injured star striker Osimhen.

Rudi Garcia’s side are fifth, five points behind Inter, after a difficult start to the season but are level with Fiorentina and Juve after a commanding display at the Stadio Bentegodi.

Frenchman Garcia, who replaced Italy coach Luciano Spalletti in the summer, has been under fire but was backed publicly by owner Aurelio De Laurentiis on Thursday, and was encouraged by the chances created without Osimhen.

“We did what we needed to do today… It’s better not to have people out but I wasn’t worried,” said Garcia.

“We’ve still got great quality going forward, we scored three times and could have easily got more.”

Kvaratskhelia has struggled to recapture the form which made him one of the shining lights of last season’s title triumph but on Saturday he showed signs he might be getting back to his brilliant best.

He doubled Napoli’s lead two minutes before the break after slamming in a low finish at Lorenzo Montipo’s near post.

And the 22-year-old netted the third nine minutes after the break when he easily skipped past Giangiacomo Magnani and rolled home his third league goal of the campaign.

Marco Baroni’s Verona pulled one back through Dark Lazovic but stay 16th, four points above the relegation zone after their fifth defeat.

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