Mauro Icardi scored on his first Inter Milan appearance in almost two months to help his side extend their lead in third place with a 4-0 Serie A win away to 10-man Genoa on Wednesday.
The Argentine had not featured since being stripped of the captaincy on Feb. 13 amid protracted contract renewal talks.
Icardi initially said he could not play because of a knee problem, before returning to training last week after negotiations between his lawyer and the club.
The former Inter captain then teed up Ivan Perisic for their third in the second half and Gagliardini scored his second of the night to complete the rout but coach Luciano Spalletti insisted Icardi could have offered more.
“He played a good match, but he could have done even better,” Spalletti said.
“The team reacted in the correct manner, putting Inter above everything. He has paid the price that he needed to pay. Now we can be stronger with him.” The result leaves Inter four points clear of fourth-placed rivals AC Milan, while Genoa remain 12th on 33 points.
“[Genoa] played a great game 15 days ago when they beat Juventus. With [coach Cesare] Prandelli Genoa have won important points and had some great performances,” Spalletti added.
“The game which we played is a consequence of having clear ideas about what a team should do.
“When you win it is because everyone plays well. We are professionals and are paid to do this, and have to go to work in a serious way because that is what the people who care about Inter want.”
Inter went in front after 15 minutes when Gagliardini arrived in the box to get on the end of Kwadwo Asamoah’s cross and guide a finish beyond goalkeeper Ionut Radu.
Icardi then fired a shot off the post, before later in the first half he was pulled back by Romero inside the box as he turned to shoot.
That resulted in a straight red card for the 20-year-old defender and a penalty to Inter which Icardi dispatched in composed fashion. The 26-year-old then turned creator for Inter’s third nine minutes after the restart, sliding a through ball into the path of Perisic who fired in a finish, before Gagliardini rose to meet a corner and head in his second of the night and his team’s fourth.