Hat trick heroes Mauro Icardi and Ever Banega back Inter Milan UCL hopes
Mauro Icardi and Ever Banega said Inter Milan can keep up the pressure for third place and Champions League qualification after hitting hat tricks in the 7-1 home win over Atalanta on Sunday.
Inter's biggest victory of the season did not cut the six-point gap to third but Icardi told Mediaset: "Our goal is to keep pushing for third place right until the end.
"We'll see where we are when the season is over, but we're becoming more consistent.
"This win is no coincidence. It's the product of all the hard work we do with coach Stefano Pioli.
"To play so well and produce that level of performance against a side like Atalanta is amazing -- it was our best performance of the season."
Banega's treble was the first of his career and doubled his tally for the season.
"We knew they were a good side, but right from the off you could see we had approached the game in the right way," he told the club's official website.
"If we carry on like this, we can definitely qualify for the Champions League.
"We've got great belief in ourselves and, if we keep playing together, united, we can reach any objective."
Pioli, who replaced Frank De Boer two months into the season, had his name sung by the San Siro crowd as the goals flew in.
He told the club's official website: "It really touched me. I'm pleased by it for sure."
#InterAtalanta nonostante la sconfitta i tifosi :top::top::top: #Atalanta applaudono la squadra al rientro a Zingonia #AtalantaLife 🖤:blue_heart: #GoAtalantaGo :black_circle::large_blue_circle: pic.twitter.com/z92d5AnyyB— Atalanta B.C. (@Atalanta_BC) March 12, 2017
Meanwhile, Atalanta fans -- whose team have enjoyed an outstanding season -- welcomed the players back warmly despite the crushing defeat.
As they had when the team returned from victory over Napoli recently, they greeted the arrival of the players with supportive chants.
Ben Gladwell reports on Serie A, the Italian national team and the Bundesliga for ESPN FC, UEFA and the Press Association. @UEFAcomBenG.