Inter lifted the Supercoppa Italiana trophy for the third consecutive season, after a hard fought 1-0 victory in stoppage time over reigning Serie A champions Napoli at the Al-Awwal Stadium in Saudi Arabia on Monday night.
After leading the Nerazzurri title charge from the front this term, it was captain Lautaro Martinez who was the hero once again, netting the only goal of the game when the final appeared destined for a penalty shootout.
Inter failed to make first-half dominance count
With the Nerazzurri chasing the Scudetto and Napoli struggling to mount a meaningful Serie A title defence, the opening 45 minutes in Riyadh largely reflected the fortunes of the two sides this term, except for a lack of ruthlessness in front of goal by Inter.
Despite controlling possession, the Milanese giants quickly turned to the long throws of Matteo Darmian in an attempted to make the breakthrough, but Federico Dimarco flashed a first time volley narrowly wide of the post after a poor Napoli clearance.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan also fired high over the crossbar from the edge of the box shortly after and Martinez headed well off target, just before seeing a close range finish hit the back of the net on 38 minutes. However, strike partner Marcus Thuram misjudged his initial burst towards goal and the referee rightly judged him offside.
Giovanni Simeone red card ends Napoli comeback hopes
Just before the break, some thunderous challenges saw Napoli defender Amir Rrahmani and Hakan Calhanoglu of Inter booked. However, it was the Neapolitans that carried that intensity into the second period and nearly made the breakthrough, but Yann Sommer tipped a curling Khvicha Kvaratskhelia shot around the post.
Moments later, though, Giovanni Simeone received two yellow cards in five minutes, and was sent-off. Although Nerazzurri defender Francesco Acerbi had exaggerated the amount of contact he had received from the Argentinian striker’s lunging tackle. It gave coach Simone Inzaghi the opportunity to exploit the extra man with clever substitutions.
Lautaro Martinez the hero for Inter again
While the Italian tactician overloaded the attack, bringing on Alexis Sanchez and Marko Arnautovic for the final minutes, it was captain Martinez who displayed his ability to forget the wasted opportunities from before and strike the solitary goal that delivered the silverware.
With Napoli failing to relieve the pressure from the Nerazzurri onslaught, the ball broke to Benjamin Pavard on the right wing and the French international fired over a low cross that evaded several players and allowed Martinez to sweep home his 21st goal in all competitions deep in injury-time.