Icardi is an animal in the box - Pioli

The Nerazzurri coach hailed his captain after a man-of-the-match performance in the victory over Lazio, with the latter still hopeful of Champions League qualification

Stefan Pioli has hailed "animal" Mauro Icardi's predatory instincts in the wake of the forward's two goals in Inter's 3-0 win over Lazio.

Best Premier League Team of the Season so far

Icardi netted twice in the second half after Ever Banega had previously opened the scoring on Wednesday, taking his Serie A tally for 2016-17 to 14 goals.

And Pioli was pleased with his side's performance and had special praise for Inter's captain.

"We put in a real team performance. We suffered in the first half, but we eventually deserved our win after a good performance," the trainer told reporters.

"Icardi was put in a position to do well because we played higher up the pitch in the second half. Mauro is an animal in the box and got himself in the right positions to hurt Lazio. 

"I would have loved to continue right now because the guys have suffered a lot. It will be a relaxed Christmas, but we have to remain focused because January will be very important. But these good results help us relax a bit."

Who is Manchester United target Victor Lindelof?

Icardi, meanwhile, was over the moon with Inter's display and hopes for more of the same after the winter break.

"It was a good game. Everyone was brilliant both physically and mentally," Icardi told Mediaset Premium.

"We are working very hard. Let's not waste what we have been doing recently and pick up where we left off after the winter break. We are hoping for a better 2017 because we deserve it based on our hard work.

"As for the Champions League, we are taking things game after game, trying to climb up in the league."