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Džeko inspires Inter to Italian Super Cup win over Milan

Inter Milan's goalkeeper Samir Handanovic holds the trophy as he celebrates with his teammates after winning the Italian Super Cup final soccer match between AC Milan and Inter Milan at the King Saud University Stadium, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2023. Inter Milan won 3-0. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)
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RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AP) — Veteran forward Edin Džeko inspired Inter Milan to a 3-0 win over city rival AC Milan and a second straight Italian Super Cup trophy on Wednesday, adding to the Rossoneri’s woes.

Džeko scored one goal and also had a role in Federico Dimarco’s opener. World Cup winner Lautaro Martínez sealed the result late on as Inter lifted the first trophy of the Italian season at King Fahd International Stadium in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

“I will be 22 soon,” joked Džeko, who turns 37 in March but is showing little sign of slowing down.

“We certainly put in a great performance, the lads really were splendid from the first to the last minute. We really gave everything we had. All of us.”

Attention will now turn back to the league, where there will be another Milan derby on Feb. 5.

“This can give us an extra push in the league,” Inter coach Simone Inzaghi said. “But tonight we will enjoy this trophy because winning like this, against Milan, in a final, is really wonderful.”

The result will increase worries over Milan’s start to the year, especially after such a dismal performance. It beat Salernitana in its first match in 2023 but followed that up with two draws in the league and also was eliminated from the Italian Cup.

The defending champion has fallen nine points behind runaway leader Napoli, with Inter and Juventus just a point further back.

“It’s clear that we’re not going through our best period, especially mentally,” Milan coach Stefano Pioli said. “We certainly need to do more and do better.

“We’ll move forward in the only way we know how: Working better to bring our level back up, because this is a defeat that really hurts us. But the season is still out there waiting for us and we need to get back to playing the way we know how.”

The Super Cup is traditionally between the Serie A champion and the Italian Cup winner. Inter won it last year after winning the league, but entered this edition having lifted the Italian Cup last season.

Its defense of the title got off to a great start as it took the lead in the 10th minute. Džeko played a great one-touch layoff to release Nicolò Barella, who rolled the ball across for Dimarco to tap in at the back post.

That seemed to spark Milan into life and Inter goalkeeper André Onana had to pull off an impressive save to deny Rafael Leão.

Džeko got on the scoresheet himself in the 21st minute. He caught the Milan defense napping to race onto a free kick from inside Inter’s half and cut inside past Sandro Tonali before placing an angled strike past goalkeeper Ciprian Tătărușanu.

And the Milan defense was at fault again for Inter’s third as Martínez shrugged off Fikayo Tomori all too easily before curling in a delicious strike.