SARDEGNA ARENA (Cagliari) – Inter made it two wins from two matches as the Nerazzurri held on for a 2-1 victory over plucky Cagliari on Sunday to keep pace with rivals Juventus atop the Serie A standings.
Lautaro Martinez opened the scoring for Antonio Conte’s men in the first half, only for Joao Pedro to level proceedings immediately after the restart.
The deciding moment came in the 72nd minute as new signing Romelu Lukaku notched his second goal of the season, firing home from the penalty spot after Stefano Sensi was taken down in the box.
Unlike last Monday’s dream start against Lecce, the Nerazzurri failed to carve out any clear chances in the opening stages of the match despite keeping over 60 percent of possession.
Inter opened the scoring in the 27th minute, when Sensi looped in a cross from the wing that saw Alberto Cerri and Lautaro Martinez fight for the ball. The Inter man got the last touch before it found the back of the net, but it was initially called back for offside.
However after consulting with VAR for several minutes, referee Fabio Maresca rightly changed the decision – much to the delight of the away fans.
Cagliari’s only real chance came in the 41st minute, but what a chance it was. After Andrea Ranocchia’s awkward header fell to the feet of Joao Pedro, the Brazilian picked out on unmarked Cerri at the top of the box.
Somehow the Italian curled his effort wide of the mark, capping off a poor half that saw him replaced by new signing Giovanni Simeone.
The change sparked the home side, and they were level just four minutes after the restart. Nahitan Nandez floated in an excellent cross from the right flank, and Joao Pedro soared over Danilo D’Ambrosio and headed home with precision.
Sensi thumped a free-kick off the crossbar as Inter slowly found their footing, and the Italian was at the heart of the Nerazzurri taking the lead as well.
The midfielder was in on goal but was taken down by Fabio Pisacane in the box as he tried to turn him. Lukaku stepped up and made no mistake to put the Nerazzurri up 2-1 with 18 minutes remaining.
Diego Godin came on to make his Inter debut, replacing Antonio Candreva, as Inter controlled the closing stages of the match to hand Cagliari their fourth consecutive home defeat – their worst run in the top flight in club history.