13.11.2022 18:17 h

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.

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.

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 made an almost immediate impact.

The 28-year-old won a stoppage-time penalty which former Torino captain Andrea Belotti smashed off the post. Seconds later Nemanja Matic thumped in a long-range leveller after Dybala's curling shot crashed off the bar.

"I would have liked to have come on earlier but it wasn't possible," said Dybala, who last injured himself taking a penalty and let Belotti have a go from the spot.

"Belotti felt like taking it, so I let him. There wasn't any problem there. He's a striker who's scored a lot of goals, and anyone can miss a penalty."

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

"There were two games today, one that ended in the 70th minute... and then the last twenty minutes, where we probably created more than in the last 4-5 games combined," said Mourinho, who was sent off late on.

"We are a limited team. When a player like Dybala isn't playing it's different."

Poland international goalkeeper Bartlomiej Dragowski suffered a reported broken ankle in Spezia's 2-1 win at rock-bottom Verona which has almost certainly means him missing the World Cup.

Dragowski was 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.

The 25-year-old 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 when Dragowski was substituted 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 bottom three nine points.