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Key Events

Juan Jesus
A. Ljajić
A. Piu
L. Paredes
S. Jovetić
M. Icardi
F. Guarín
G. Kondogbia
D. Croce
Yellow Card
D. Croce
Marcel Büchel
M. Livaja
M. Maccarone
I. Perišić
Assist
M. Icardi
Goal
M. Brozović
Yellow Card
L. Paredes
Yellow Card
J. Murillo
Yellow Card
3
2
3
2

Stats

Possession
% %
10
7
Shots Off Target
Shots On Target 4 3
Total Passes 466 503

Commentary

That's all for our live coverage from Empoli. Good bye!
Mauro Icardi's fifth goal in as many games ensures a winning start to 2016 for the Nerazzurri who reclaim their place at the Serie A summit. It wasn't convincing for the first 45 minutes, but Inter put on a clinic in the second half of how to play with the lead and their ability to do so is what makes them viable title contenders.
FULL TIME: EMPOLI 0-1 INTER.
THAT WAS IT! Delightful ball floated over the top by Mario Rui, which sneaks beyond the Inter defence, but two desperation lunges from the men in blue are all for not as the ball ends up running behind for a goal kick. That may do it.
Tempers start to boil over, but it's Empoli who get the benefit of this latest coming together as they win a free kick just slightly off to the left-centre of the pitch, about 30 yards out from goal. Can they snatch it at the death?
We have played one of the five allotted minutes of stoppage time, and Handanovic starts Inter on the break after collecting a cross in from the left with relative ease.
Juan Jesus
A. Ljajić
Internazionale
Final change for Inter as Mancini brings on a fifth defender in Juan Jesus onto the pitch, replacing forward Ljajic.
Inter have completely sucked the life out of this game. They're playing for stoppages now and have all hands on deck in defence to see this one out. It will take something special for Empoli to find a way through.
A. Piu
L. Paredes
Empoli
Empoli make their final change as they introduce forward Alessandro Piu for the final few minutes at the expense of holding midfielder Paredes.
S. Jovetić
M. Icardi
Internazionale
A second change for the visitors sees goalscorer Icardi replaced by Stevan Jovetic as Inter look to milk precious seconds off the clock in these dying minutes.
Miranda plays a hopeful ball over the top that Ljajic chases down with great determination. He cuts into the area, putting great pressure on a scattered Empoli defence, but Mario Rui recovers brilliantly to usher the ball behind for a corner.
Consecutive corner for Empoli amount to nothing as Inter defend their lines admirably. The hosts have about 10 minutes remaining to prevent Inter from winning their ninth 1-0 match of the season.
F. Guarín
G. Kondogbia
Internazionale
There's the change as Fredy Guarin comes on to replace Kondogbia.
Play is set to resume and it doesn't appear as though Kondogbia will be able to continue. He remains on the touchline as we continue on here, and Mancini is quickly readying a replacement.
Kondogbia is clipped from behind by Croce, who is already on a yellow card. The substitute escapes a second booking here, but the worry for Inter will be the health of their midfielder as he remains down. Play is forced to be brought to a halt and the training staff comes out to attend to him.
Ambitious from Paredes, who squanders a free kick by going for goal form over 30 yards out, as opposed to picking out a cross. It's routine in the end for Handanovic who hardly has to move to catch the effort.
STAT: Empoli have taken only one point from their last six league games against Inter and have failed to score in their last three games at home against the Nerazzurri.
NO PENALTY! The referee has a long, hard look at this one as Pucciarelli is clipped inside the area. He goes to ground but still manages to get a weak shot off that Handanovic saves with ease.
The tempo has slowed quite a bit, which certainly works in the favour of Inter. It's become far too quiet from Empoli's point of view, and they will have to throw caution to the wind soon enough to try and turn this around.
D. Croce
Yellow Card
Empoli
Substitute Croce makes his first contribution to the match, though it's hardly a positive one as he gets his elbow high up on D'Ambrosio and is issued a yellow card as a result.
Close again from Kondogbia! Barba has to be stronger with his clearance, giving the ball straight back to the visitors who nearly make him pay. Ljajic lays it off for the ex-Sevilla man who tries to place a shot in at the near post, but it drifts just wide.
D. Croce
Marcel Büchel
Empoli
Daniele Croce is also introduced for the Azzurri, with Buchel giving way.
M. Livaja
M. Maccarone
Empoli
Double change for the hosts, the first of which sees Marko Livaja replace the fading Maccarone.
STAT: Mauro Icardi has now netted five goals in his last five league appearances. He has eight goals on the season, half the tally of current leading scorer Gonzalo Higuain.
ALMOST! Good passage of play from Inter, which results in Kondogbia being teed up for a shot atop the area. He spots an opening in the bottom corner, but steers his effort just wide. Empoli are barely hanging on at the moment.
Ljajic is starting to come alive after spending much of the first half on the periphery. Between himself and Perisic, Inter have a great width about them in attack which has left Empoli stretched at the back. They need to make this period of pressure count.
Inter are starting to take control and really take the game to Empoli who are in danger of falling out of this contest. The Nerazzurri concede very few goals - the fewest in the top flight in fact - so a second for the visitors would surely put this game to bed.
CLOSE TO A SECOND! Ljajic finds himself in space inside the area but Mario Rui recovers well to turn him aside. The ball is sent back into the path of Brozovic, but he sends a strike narrowly wide of the near post.
BETTER FROM EMPOLI! Saponara wins a 50-50 duel in midfield and drives forward before rolling a wonderfully-weighted ball through for Pucciarelli, but Handanovic stands his ground to make a terrific save to preserve their lead!
STAT: Inter have a record of 11 wins and a draw in the 12 games in which they've taken the lead so far this term.
Excellent start to the second half from Inter, who have likely been given a stern talking to by Mancini at the interval after being second best in the first half, despite walking away with the lead. Perisic makes another tidy run forward before being dispossessed at the vital moment, and then moments later Brozovic has a go from distance and forces Skorupski into a save.
Back underway at the Stadio Carlo Castellani!
Mauro Icardi has Inter ahead at the interval in what has been a highly entertaining contest at the Stadio Carlo Castellani. It's been wide open through 45 minutes and although Empoli have arguably been the more threatening side, it is the Nerazzurri who are in front. Still, everything left to play for in the second half.
HALF TIME: EMPOLI 0-1 INTER.
I. Perišić
Assist
Internazionale
Great running and an even better pick out from Perisic there to record the assist.
M. Icardi
Goal
Internazionale
INTER SNATCH THE LEAD IN STOPPAGE TIME! An incredible goal in every respect from the Nerazzurri, highlighted by the terrific work of Perisic in the buildup to drive towards the byline and whip in a pass. Icardi runs toward the near post to meet it and redirects it beyond Skorupski!
There will be two minutes added on at the end of the first half. Is there an opener to be had?
This has been a fascinating game to watch from a neutral standpoint and there's just no telling which way this match will tilt. It's becoming increasingly stretched yet again and there is plenty of space to be found in midfield, with both teams offering great width on the counter.
The tempo picks up again as we approach the interval. Empoli are halted in their tracks as they look to mount an attack, which allows Inter to break on the counter. Perisic slides Icardi through, but some excellent cover from Costa sees him stay with the striker stride for stride and break up the move.
STAT: Empoli have won four games in a row for the first time in their Serie A history.
Handanovic called into action! A careless giveaway from Medel allows Empoli to break on a quick counter and Buchel lets fly from range, sending an exceptional shot at goal from range. Handanovic dives across to his left and shows strong hands to keep it out before Murillo blasts the rebound behind for a corner.
M. Brozović
Yellow Card
Internazionale
The challenges are flying in! The latest of which is a real reckless one by Brozovic as he flies through the legs of Mario Rui near the touchline, leaving the referee little question as he shows the Croatia international a yellow. He'll be walking a fine line the rest of the way.
Handanovic picks up another knock! Bravely diving in at the near post in the Inter keeper to try and collect a ball flicked on following a corner. Maccarone has every right to go for the ball himself and slides in, making hard contact with Handanovic's hands, but again there was no intent in the challenge which prompts the referee to keep the cards in his pocket.
OUCH! Another hard coming together, this time in the Inter penalty area as Pucciarelli clatters into Handanovic after the goalkeeper had parried a ball played over the top. There was no malice in it from the Empoli striker who tried to get out of the way, but was unable to avoid contact with the Slovenia international coming flying in.
Saponara is down and in need of medical attention after an innocuous coming together with Brozovic in midfield. His ankle appeared to get caught on the Croatian's follow through, but Empoli will be hoping he can shake this knock off and carry on.
STAT: Inter ended 2015 with two wins and two losses in their last four games, and kept a clean sheet in six of their last eight games of the year.
L. Paredes
Yellow Card
Empoli
A clever bit of hold up play from Icardi forces Paredes into a challenge and he becomes the second player of the match to see yellow.
INCHES WIDE! Oh that would have been something! Pucciarelli chases down a ball over the top and holds it up well before knocking it back for Zelinski, who barely misses the bottom corner with his first-time strike, as Handanovic was rooted to his spot.
The pace has gone slightly from the match, but it's still proving to be a very entertaining contest. Empoli are very much on the front foot once again, taking the game to Mancini's side who have their hands full in defence. The visitors need to do much better in transition.
SIDE NETTING! Lovely bit of skill from Maccarone who drifts out to the right and is able to navigate a path beyond Nagatomo. His shot takes a deflection which takes the sting out of it, but Saponara pounced on the rebound, only to see his strike crash into the side netting from a tight angle.
STAT: Over the last three seasons, Inter have picked-up only one point on their opening game of the new year after the Christmas break.
BEATEN AWAY BY HANDANOVIC! Maccarone drives a low strike through the wall from the subsequent free kick, but the Slovenian keeper reads it well to get across and punch the effort away!
J. Murillo
Yellow Card
Internazionale
After a bit of debate, Murillo isn't able to walk away unscathed as he's issued a yellow card.
WAS IT A PENALTY? Real controversy in the decision from the referee as Maccarone goes down under the slightest contact from Murillo. The striker just seemed to lose his footing and went to ground, but the referee deems it was a foul! To the relief of Inter, however, he says the contact came just outside the area.
The tempo is incredibly lively as the match remains very stretched. Another scintillating attack from Inter sees Brozovic slide Perisic through along the right, but again the Croatian's ball across the face of goal is turned aside, this time by Barba.
Important intervention by Costa! A mistake from Barba at the back allows Perisic to get through inside the right of the area and lash a ball across the face of goal with Icardi and Ljajic lurking, but Costa manages to step in front and divert the ball behind for a corner.
Inter boast the league's best defensive record at this point in the season and a middle of the pack attack, but despite goals being in short supply when they take the pitch, this is showing all the signs of being a very open contest. The pace has been wonderful thus far as the teams go back and forth exchanging attacks on the counter, though neither goalkeeper has been forced into action just yet.
STAT: Empoli last failed to score in September against Frosinone; since then, they've found the net for 11 consecutive league games.
Empoli have parked themselves firmly in the Inter half and are passing the ball around patiently as they look to build in attack. They have yet to find a way through this Inter back line, but the early warning signs are certainly there.
Even start early on, with Empoli looking especially lively. The crowd is behind them in full force and the noise level is superb as these fans try to spark an upset tonight. Of course the pressure is on Inter with both Fiorentina and Juventus winning earlier today.
Finally underway in Empoli, a couple of minutes behind schedule.
Just one change for the hosts who bring Federico Barba into defence with Lorenzo Tonelli unavailable. Marco Giampaolo has changed as little as possible to his team which ended 2015 with four-successive victories. Manuel Pucciarelli and Massimo Maccarone lead the lines in attack, flanked by Riccardo Saponara.
Roberto Mancini has made a staggering five changes to his team following their 2-1 loss at home to Lazio to close out 2015. Felipe Melo is suspended and is replaced by Geoffrey Kondogbia. Also dropping to the bench are wing-backs Martin Montoya and Alex Telles, with Danilo D'Ambrosio and Yuto Nagatomo taking their place. Marcelo Brozovic and Adem Ljajic are also back in the starting lineup, at the expense of Jonathan Biabiany and Stevan Jovetic.
SUBS: Pugliese, Zambelli, Bittante, Croce, Maiello, El Hadji, Piu, Pelagotti, Camporese, Krunic, Livaja.
EMPOLI (4-3-1-2): Skorupski; Laurini, Costa, Barba, Mario Rui; Zielinski, Paredes, Buchel; Saponara; Pucciarelli, Maccarone.
SUBS: Juan Jesus, Palacio, Jovetic, Biabiany, Telles, Guarin, Montoya, Santon, Ranocchia, Gnoukouri, Carrizo, Manaj.
INTER (4-3-3): Handanovic; D'Ambrosio, Miranda, Murillo, Nagatomo; Brozovic, Medel, Kondogbia; Perisic, Ljajic, Icardi.
CONFIRMED TEAM NEWS:
Empoli have been writing quite the story for themselves this season. They had just 17 points at this venture a year ago and were in a very real relegation battle. Now, with 27 points, relegation has to be far back in their minds. Of course anything can happen with just over half the season to play, but the Azzurri are winning games at an impressive rate as they make a strong case to finish inside the top 10. Marco Giampaolo deserves plenty of credit to where he has brought this team, and they will be looking to pull another surprise to kick-off 2016 with a victory over the league leaders, which would be their fifth consecutive in the league as they ended 2015 off with maximum points in their last four fixtures.
Hello and welcome to live coverage of Inter’s trip to the Stadio Carlo Castellani to take on surprise-package Empoli, as the Nerazzurri look to keep the pace atop the  Serie A summit. The black and blue Milan club sat in 11th place at the holiday break last season, 18 points behind leaders Juventus. Fast forward a year and Roberto Mancini has them sitting atop the table and looking every bit the part as title contenders. Games like these can prove tricky, but they are a must-have three points if they are to remain viable challengers in Italy’s top flight.
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