Romelu Lukaku hit his 21st league goal of the season as Inter tightened their grip at the top of Serie A with a 2-1 victory over Sassuolo.The Belgian, who has now found the net in 11 of Inter’s 14 home games in the league this season, broke the deadlock in the 10th-minute with a clever headed finish from Ashley Young’s dinked cross.
Sassuolo may have had much more possession but Samir Handanovic was rarely tested as the visitors lacked ideas and the creativity needed to break down Inter’s defence.
Inter Milan’s Belgian forward Romelu Lukaku celebrates after opening the scoring during the Italian Serie A football match Inter Milan vs Sassuolo on April 7, 2021 at the San Siro stadium in Milan.
Image credit: Getty ImagesLautaro Martinez doubled Inter’s advantage in the 67th-minute, but not without controversy. Stefan De Vrij was alleged to have committed a foul inside the penalty area, but Sassuolo’s strong appeals for a spot-kick were ignored and Inter rubbed salt into the wound by scoring with a rapid counter-attack, Lukaku feeding Martinez who finished with aplomb.
Hamed Junior Traore scored with five minutes remaining to set up a tense finish but Inter held on to move 11 points clear of second-placed Milan with just nine games remaining.
TALKING POINT – INTER TAKE A STEP CLOSER TO ENDING JUVE’S DOMINANCE
Inter’s lead at the top of the table is now almost insurmountable as they claimed a 10th straight league victory for the first time in over a decade.
Antonio Conte’s blueprint is well and truly evident on this team and that has been particularly obvious in the Nerrazzurri’s last four victories – none of which have been more than a one-goal margin. The 51-year-old was once again happy to allow the opponent to have more of the ball and for his side to sit deep and break on the counter-attack when the opportunity arose.
It may not be champagne football but it’s extremely effective. Possessing a striker who is not only clinical but can help build attacks is key to this strategy and in Lukaku, Inter have one of the very finest in the business.
Inter always felt in control of this contest and in the bigger picture, they are in total control of the title race. Their first scudetto is so close now the players can almost taste it.
MAN OF THE MATCH – ASHLEY YOUNG (INTER)
The 35-year-old constantly provided a threat down the left flank with his movement, quick feet and a delivery to match as he created Inter’s opener. But he was also excellent defensively, working tirelessly to help his side when not in possession in a performance which belied his age.
Inter: Handanovic 6, Skriniar 7, De Vrij 7, Darmian 6, Hakimi 6, Barella 6, Eriksen 5, Gagliardini 6, Young 8, Martinez 6, Lukaku 8.. subs: Vecino 5, Sensi 5, Sanchez 5.
Sassuolo: Consigli 5, Toljan 5, Chiriches 5, Marlon 5, Rogerio 5, Obiang 5, Lopez 5, Traore 7, Djuricic 6, Boga 6, Raspadori 6.. subs: Haraslin 5, Kyriakopoulos 5, Oddei N/A, Karamoko N/A.
10′ – GOAL! Inter 1-0 Sassuolo (Romelu Lukaku): Who else but Lukaku! With 10 minutes on the clock, the Belgian gives Inter the lead with his 21st goal of the campaign! He gets in front of his marker to meet Young’s cross and guides his header into the far corner. Inter are up and running!
62′ – GOAL! Inter 2-0 Sassuolo (Lautaro Martinez): The advantage is doubled with a textbook counter-attack goal! De Vrij grabs the shirt of Raspadori inside the Inter penalty area but Sassuolo’s penalty appeals fall on deaf ears. And here come the hosts on the counter, Lukaku feeding Martinez who punishes them with a clinical finish!
85′ – GOAL! Inter 2-1 Sassuolo (Hakim Traore): It’s all a bit of a mess at the back from an Inter point-of-view and their clean sheet is gone. Hakim overplays it and loses the ball, Young makes a questionable challenge but play is allowed to continue and it falls to Traore who curls an impressive shot into the top corner. Game on?
Inter scored with both of their shots on target.
Inter are the first side to have won each of the first 10 Serie A games played in the second half of a season in the three points for a win era.