Inter have leapfrogged AC Milan atop the Serie A standings thanks to standout performances from Romelu Lukaku and Lautaro Martinez, as they accounted for all of the Nerazzurri’s goals in Sunday’s 3-1 victory over Lazio.
Antonio Conte’s men entered the match knowing they could leapfrog their city rivals who fell 2-0 to Spezia on Saturday and they made no mistake, making the most of their chances against a plucky Aquile side. Lukaku netted twice, once from the penalty spot, and while Gonzalo Escalante’s goal reopened proceedings in the second half, Lautaro firing home into an empty net after an incredible run by the Belgian wrapped up proceedings.
As tends to be the case when Inter face Lazio, controversy wasn’t far away on Sunday, or at least it first seemed. Lautaro Martinez went down under a challenge from Wesley Hoedt and a penalty was awarded, despite it looking as though the Dutchman won the ball.
Replays did show, though, that Lautaro’s heels had been clipped from behind before Hoedt ever made contact with the ball and the decision to award the spot kick was the right one.
From there, Lukaku stepped up and made no mistake, finishing past Pepe Reina to open the scoring with his first-ever goal against the Biancocelesti.
Lazio remained on top as far as possession was concerned, but another close call went Inter’s way – and rightly – as they doubled their lead.
A Marcelo Brozovic ball to the left ricocheted off a Lazio leg and through to Lukaku, who at first looked offside. He converted the chance and was then flagged offside, but VAR showed that he was in fact in an onside position and the goal stood to double Inter’s lead on the stroke of half time.
The away side continued to take the initiative as Acerbi found himself open in the box after an Immobile flick, but he scuffed his shot. Inter responded at the other end thanks to Hakimi after Lautaro rolled it across, but Parolo got there just in time to block the effort.
Lazio made things interesting in the 61st minute, though it came via some luck. Milinkovic-Savic’s free kick came off the stomach of Escalante, wrong footing Handanovic and cutting the deficit in half.
The comeback was short-lived as Lukaku and Lautaro combined in spectacular fashion. The Belgian started the counter in his own half, held off Parolo while sprinting forward, and still managed to pick out a sprinting Lautaro who had nothing to do but tap home into an empty net.
Inter almost added to their advantage when Lautaro found his way past Patric, but his shot came off Barella and wide of the mark.
The Nerazzurri’s two-goal advantage seemed to suck the life out of Lazio, as they failed to must much of anything in the closing stages of the contest. It was no doubt a welcome site for Antonio Conte however, as Inter head into next weekend’s Derby della Madonnina one point up on Milan.