Hat-trick hero Icardi gunning for Champions League with Inter

Mauro Icardi declared Inter's push for Champions League qualification to be back on after he and Ever Banega hit hat-tricks in a stunning 7-1 thrashing of Atalanta. Icardi's treble came in a nine-minute first-half spell before a quickfire brace from fellow Argentinian Banega ensured 1-0 in the 17th minute became 5-0 after 34.

Remo Freuler pulled one back for Atalanta before the break but Roberto Gagliardini lashed into the top corner to compound his former club's misery and Banega clipped home a 67th-minute free-kick to complete the rout and his treble.

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Inter lie five points behind third-placed Roma and six shy of Napoli in second, with the capital club visiting Palermo in Sunday's late kick-off.

"It was the best game of the season," a delighted Icardi told Inter's official website after moving to 20 Serie A goals for the campaign.

"Playing against a rival like Atalanta, who are doing so well, and to play a game like that was so beautiful.

"Our goal is to try to the last for third place, then see where we are at the end of the championship."

Those ambitions were checked by a 3-1 home loss to Roma two weeks ago but, with this latest resounding triumph coming on the back of a 5-1 victory at Cagliari, Icardi was able to convincingly claim the setback is already well behind Stefano Pioli's squad.

"Roma is a game we have left behind and we have raised ourselves from it well," he said.

"We are giving continuity to our work with mister Pioli. For sure, the performance is not accidental – it is the result of the work we do with the coach. In a few games it can go wrong but I think we are on the right track."

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