Inter moved up to second place in the Serie A table with a 3-0 win over Lazio as they recorded a sixth consecutive league victory.
The Nerazzurri leapfrogged Napoli, on goal difference, to move behind Juventus after a commanding performance at a stormy Stadio Olimpico capped by a double from captain Mauro Icardi and a Marcelo Brozovic stunner.
Luciano Spalletti’s side are on their best run of form since January 2017, when they won seven games in a row, and continued their dominant run against the capital club by making it five games unbeaten in this fixture.
Inter took the lead just before the half-hour mark through a delightful passing move. Matteo Politano’s cross was chested down into the path of Matias Vecino by Ivan Perisic and the Uruguayan clipped a clever pass behind him for Icardi to tap in from close range.
The Nerazzurri’s lead was doubled shortly before the break when Brozovic fired a superb left-footed shot low into the corner past Thomas Strakosha after a headed clearance from a corner had fallen into his path.
Lazio tried to rally after the interval, but the visitors soon pounced to put the result beyond doubt. Substitute Borja Valero’s perfectly weighted through ball found Icardi inside the box and the Argentine calmly turned inside Senad Lulic and passed the ball into the corner.
The Roman club have now lost all four of their meetings with Italy’s Champions League representatives this season – Juventus, Napoli, Roma and Inter – but remain three points clear of fifth-placed AC Milan, who have a game in hand.
Lazio’s big boy complex
Lazio have played 10 games this season. They’ve won six of them and lost four of them. It cannot be a coincidence that each of those defeats has been against one of the four teams that finished above them in the standings last season.
Simone Inzaghi’s side have often struggled to impress on the big occasion, with a couple of notable exceptions coming against Juventus last season in the Supercoppa and with a stunning victory in Turin. Worryingly for the coach, the problem seems to have worsened this term with comfortable losses to Juventus, Roma and now Inter following the opening day defeat to Napoli, in which they threw away the lead to lose 2-1.
The Biancocelesti’s superb form against the league’s lesser lights – they’ve beaten every team that finished below them last season so far – will keep them in contention for a top four spot, but if they are to truly cement their place among the Champions League contenders they must begin to show their undoubted quality in the glamour games.
It’s me, Mario
The exclusion of former Lazio defender Stefan de Vrij from the Inter line-up on his return to Rome was the selection decision that got most tongues wagging ahead of kick-off, but Joao Mario’s return to the team was equally worthy of comment.
The question of how best to deal with the absence of the injured Radja Nainggolan has been a big talking point, with Borja Valero and Matias Vecino both potential candidates, but the Portuguese came in from the cold at a blustery Olimpico to stake his claim with his first minutes of the season.
A neat performance, in which he stitched together the midfield and attack competently before being replaced in the second half, is likely to be rewarded with more game time as Luciano Spalletti explores the options available to him. It will take much more to convince most fans that he has a future in Milan, but Mario has at least put himself back in the discussion.