Inter Milan loses at Spezia 2-1 after late penalties

LA SPEZIA, Italy (AP) — It was a tale of three penalties at Stadio Alberto Picco where Inter Milan surprisingly lost to relegation-threatened Spezia 2-1 in a slice of Serie A history on Friday.

After Lautaro Martínez’s first-half penalty for Inter was saved, substitute Daniel Maldini, the son of AC Milan great Paolo Maldini, gave Spezia the lead in the 55th minute. Maldini is also on loan from Milan.

Inter looked to have rescued a point when Romelu Lukaku converted a penalty seven minutes from time but M’Bala Nzola scored from another spot kick.

Spezia's first victory over the Nerazzurri lifted it six points clear of the drop zone.

Inter remained second but was just two points ahead of Lazio and three ahead of Roma and Milan, with all three still to play this weekend.

Simone Inzaghi's team will have to recover quickly ahead of a tough week. It visits Porto on Tuesday in the last 16 of the Champions League, protecting a 1-0 advantage from the first leg. Then it hosts fierce rival Juventus in Serie A the following weekend.

Inter dominated Spezia but home goalkeeper Bartłomiej Drągowski kept his team in the match with fine saves, the most important of which was to keep out Martínez’s penalty in the 14th minute.

The penalty was awarded after a tackle by Mattia Caldara on Danilo D’Ambrosio.

Lukaku gestured towards the bench in surprise as to why he was not taking the penalty. He'd scored all 16 of his previous penalties for Inter. Martínez missed for the fourth time in his last eight spot kicks.

Spezia didn’t have an attempt on goal during the first half — although Kevin Agudelo had a cross deflected onto the crossbar — but it took the lead with its first shot.

Drągowski sent a long goal kick to Nzola, who burst into the area and controlled with his back to goal before rolling across for an unmarked Maldini to slot.

Inter was awarded a second penalty late on when Salva Ferrer fouled Denzel Dumfries.

This time, Lukaku stepped up and drilled into the bottom right corner.

But less than two minutes later, Spezia was awarded a penalty when Dumfries crashed into the back of Viktor Kovalenko. Nzola didn't miss either.

___

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

The Associated Press