Inter crush Lazio to tighten grip on top spot

ROME - Walter Samuel and Zlatan Ibrahimovic were on target as champions Inter Milan won 3-0 at Lazio on Saturday to move nine points clear at the top of Serie A. Argentine defender Samuel headed in Sulley Muntari's cross in the second minute and Lazio's Mobido Diakite made it 2-0 on the stroke of halftime when he diverted a Maicon pass into his own net. Sweden striker Ibrahimovic, who produced delightful touches throughout, nodded home the third goal 10 minutes into the second half to wrap up Inter's sixth consecutive league win. Juventus and AC Milan, who share second place with 27 points, can trim Inter's lead back to six points with wins over Lecce and Catania respectively on Sunday. "At the moment the team is well balanced, but I don't want to express too much satisfaction. Football can betray you," Inter coach Jose Mourinho told Sky television. "I don't want us to be the winter champions. I want us to be champions in May." The hosts pressed for the equaliser after getting over the shock of the opener by Samuel, who has recently returned to regular action after a long spell out with a knee injury. Lazio's Aleksandar Kolarov, Lorenzo De Silvestri and Pasquale Foggia all came close with powerful efforts. Mauro Zarate was also unable to poke the ball home from short range after fellow striker Goran Pandev had cut through Inter's defence from the left in the first half. Lazio kept attacking even at 3-0 down and thought they had pulled a goal back with a Kolarov freekick in the 58th minute but the referee had blown up because of problems with the wall and ordered it to be taken again. AS Roma continued their recovery from a terrible start to the season by beating basement side Chievo Verona 1-0 away earlier on Saturday. French forward Jeremy Menez, who this week complained about not playing enough since joining from Monaco in the close season, volleyed a Daniele De Rossi header into the far corner in the 69th minute for his first Serie A goal. The visitors, who failed to put away a string of chances before Menez capped off a fine performance with the winner, had midfielder Matteo Brighi sent off for a second yellow card in the closing stages. Roma's fifth consecutive win in all competitions lifts them to the middle of the standings ahead of Tuesday's decisive Champions League Group A match at home to Girondins Bordeaux.