Dzeko double puts Inter in top four, Dybala returns for Roma

Edin Dzeko fired Inter Milan into the top four of Serie A on Sunday with a brace in his team's 3-2 win at Atalanta on Sunday, the final day of top flight action before the World Cup.

Veteran forward Dzeko struck nine minutes before the break to level Ademola Lookman's penalty opener for the hosts, and then forced home his sixth league goal of the season 20 minutes later.

Jose Luis Palomino glanced in an own goal an hour into his Atalanta return after being cleared of doping offences, ensuring that Inter moved level on 30 points with second-placed Lazio and AC Milan.

Palomino pulled a goal back with 13 minutes remaining when he headed in at the right end, but Atalanta's third straight defeat leaves them in sixth, 14 points behind league leaders Napoli.

"We started a bit below our best but we woke up once we conceded... Any team can struggle against Atalanta who are always dangerous at home," Dzeko told Sky.

Inter are 11 points off the pace but will stay in the Champions League positions until January as long as Juventus do not beat Lazio in the final Serie A match of 2022 on Sunday night.

Simone Inzaghi's team host unbeaten Napoli in their first match after Serie A reconvenes in January following the World Cup and traditional Christmas break as they try to stay in the title race.

"Our hope is that we win the next match, like I said after Bologna (won 6-1 midweek) we have to look forwards and not backwards," added Dzeko, who has scored nine times in all competitions this season.

"You have to compliment Napoli for the season they’re having."

Both Lazio and champions Milan, who host Fiorentina at the San Siro, can take the end-of-year gap between them and Napoli to eight points with wins in their respective matches.

- Unhappy Dybala -

Paulo Dybala made his first Roma appearance in over a month but it was not a happy return for the Argentina forward despite proving his fitness for the World Cup, as his team drew 1-1 with Torino.

Dybala came on with 20 minutes remaining at the Stadio Olimpico with Roma trailing to Karol Linetty's 55th minute header and he made an almost immediate impact.

He won a stoppage-time penalty which former Torino captain Andrea Belotti smashed off the post and seconds later he crashed a shot of his own out off the bar, after which Nemanja Matic thumped in a long-range leveller.

Jose Mourinho's side sit seventh, three points behind Inter in the race for the Champions League spots after another stodgy performance.

Poland international goalkeeper Bartłomiej Dragowski suffered an ankle injury in Spezia's 2-1 win at rock-bottom Verona which looks to have ended his World Cup before even getting on the airplane.

Dragowski had been selected in Poland's squad for the Qatar tournament but he had to be stretchered from the Stadio Bentegodi field in tears three minutes before half-time after trying to tackle Kevin Lasagna.

Italian media report that the 25-year-old could have broken his ankle in the clash.

Dragowski has two caps for his country and would have been behind fellow Italy-based keepers Wojciech Szczesny and Lukasz Skorupski in the pecking order for Poland.

Spezia were behind to Simone Verdi's strike on the half-hour but Mbala Nzola's first goals away from home this season moved his team six clear of the relegation zone and condemned Verona to their 10th straight defeat.

Monza thumped Salernitana 3-0 to extend the gap between them and the drop zone nine points.

Carlos Augusto, Dany Motta and Matteo Pessina netted in Monza's fifth win in the nine matches played since Rafaelle Palladino took over as coach in mid-September.

td/bsp