Inter Milan 3-1 Lazio
Inter Milan are the new leaders of Serie A. The Nerazzurri defeated a red-hot Lazio side 3-1 at the San Siro to leapfrog their city rivals AC Milan for top spot.
Romelu Lukaku led the way by scoring a first-half brace, then set up strike partner Lautaro Martinez for the clinching third goal after Lazio pulled one back.
Lazio had come into the match on a remarkable run of Serie A 2021 results with six straight wins in the league, but Inter’s prolific strike partnership proved too much for the Biancocelesti.
The win now sees the Nerazzurri in pole position ahead of next week’s much-anticipated derby rematch with AC Milan, who suffered a shock defeat to Spezia over the weekend.
Highlights of the game
Fresh off their disappointing Coppa Italia exit at the hands of fierce rivals Juventus, Inter had the first real chance of the match on 12 minutes. Lautaro Martinez launched a powerful right-footed strike from the edge of the box, which whistled just wide of the goal.
Lautaro would then play a major part in Inter taking the lead as he won a penalty on 20 minutes. After a great pass from Lukaku, Lautaro got in behind the Lazio defence and was brought down by Wesley Hoedt, who was also shown a yellow card.
Lukaku stepped up to the spot and stroked the ball confidently into the corner to give the home side the early lead.
Lazio’s best chance to equalise in the first half inevitably fell to captain Ciro Immobile, whose shot from the edge of the box forced Samir Handanovic to a fine save. Luis Alberto also had a long-range strike which Handanovic handled easily.
On the other end, Lukaku had a good chance to double Inter’s advantage a couple of minutes before half-time, but his shot was well-saved by Pepe Reina.
However, the Belgian would get another chance just a few minutes later, and he smashed it in the back of the net.
The goal had initially been waived off for offside, but after a lengthy check by VAR, it was finally confirmed that the ball came off a Lazio player, which meant Lukaku’s goal counted.
Despite that devastating setback so close to the break, Simone Inzaghi’s side came out strong in the second half. A great chance fell to Francesco Acerbi, who was unmarked in the penalty area, but the centre-back got his shot all wrong.
Lazio’s pressure would eventually pay off, though, as they pulled a goal back on the hour mark. Sergej Milinkovic-Savic’s free-kick took a big deflection off substitute Gonzalo Escalante, which took the ball beyond Handanovic.
However, Lazio’s joy would be short-lived as Inter all but sealed the win just a few minutes later. Lukaku led a lightning-quick counterattack as he made a powerful run from inside his own half into the penalty area. He then unselfishly squared the ball to Lautaro, who had the simple task of tapping the ball into the open goal.
It was a fitting way to cap off a fantastic performance from both strikers, who had disappointed in their Coppa Italia exit to Juventus.
Lazio had to play from behind for most of the match, which was a big reason why they dominated possession, 65-35. They also had the slight edge in shots, 14-12, but Inter made the most of their chances. Lukaku and Martinez both finished with four shots apiece.
Lukaku reached a career milestone as he scored his 300th club goal. And his brace now takes him to 16 league goals, which ties him with Cristiano Ronaldo for the league lead.
Meanwhile, Ciro Immobile remains stuck at 14 goals. The Lazio skipper had an unusually quiet game. He finished with just one shot and was subbed off 20 minutes from time.
Inter could not have asked for a better result ahead of their massive clash against AC Milan next week. Expect the Serie A 2021 betting odds for that derby to be quite close.
After being knocked out of Europe, Inter will have the benefit of having a full week off while Milan will be busy playing a Europa League tie against Crvena Zvezda in midweek. SBOTOP will surely have more analysis of this potential title decider out later in the week.
As for Lazio, they will host Sampdoria this weekend ahead of their big Champions League round of 16 first leg against Bayern Munich the following week.
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