Edin Dzeko has netted a late winning goal to drive Inter Milan to a 2-1 victory over virus-hit Venezia and send the leaders five points clear at the top of Serie A.
It was striker Dzeko’s first goal since the beginning of December.
“When you score in the last minute, it’s normal to celebrate in a frenzy,” Dzeko said.
“The team had certainly missed my goals, but the most important thing is winning. It was wonderful to score in the 90th minute.
“There are no easy matches in Serie A. We’ve seen that today and it was one of the toughest games of the year.”
Nicolo Barella had cancelled out Thomas Henry’s shock opener for lowly Venezia in the first half.
Defending champions Inter consolidated their league advantage before the eagerly anticipated derby match against second-placed AC Milan after the international break.
Venezia were depleted by COVID-19 and made the trip without eight players and several members of staff, including coach Paolo Zanetti, who had all tested positive for the virus.
New Serie A rules that came into place recently state that a match will be postponed if nine players out of a list of 25 squad members are out with COVID-19.
The visitors took a surprise lead in the 19th minute when Ethan Ampadu whipped in a cross that Henry headed in off the underside of the crossbar.
Inter replied five minutes from halftime when Barella slid in to fire home the rebound after goalkeeper Luca Lezzerini did brilliantly to parry Ivan Perisic’s volley from close range.
Venezia were left fuming as they felt there was a foul by Dzeko on Marco Modolo in the build-up — leaving the defender with a black eye — but the goal was awarded after a VAR check.
Inter wasted several chances to take the lead in the second half but, just when it appeared as if the Nerazzuri would pay for their profligacy, Dzeko headed in Denzel Dumfries’ cross in the final minute.
Fourth-placed Atalanta had several players out with COVID-19 for their match at Lazio but still managed to pick up what could prove to be a precious point in a 0-0 draw.
Genoa showed clear improvement in their first match under new coach Alexander Blessin in their goalless draw against Udinese.
Blessin, who replaced the fired Andriy Shevchenko on Wednesday, is second-bottom Genoa’s third coach of the season.