Lethal Lautaro Martinez fires Inter to opening-day Serie A win over Monza

Inter kicked their 2023/24 season off in comfortable fashion as they beat Monza at the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza, thanks largely to an excellent showing from Lautaro Martinez in attack.

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STADIO GIUSEPPE MEAZZA (Milan): A goal in each half from Lautaro Martinez helped Inter to a 2-0 victory over Monza on the opening matchday of Serie A, earning the Nerazzurri their first three points of the season. It was a game that, in spite of a still-improvable shape, saw Simone Inzaghi‘s men control the game for long stretches and hurt their opponents when given the chance.

The Argentinian hit the ground running by showing the kind of clinicality that was desperately needed from the Biscione, as well as his desire further improve his 21-goal haul from the last Serie A campaign.

On the other end, Raffaele Palladino‘s outfit still seemed far from the level that allowed them to secure an impressive 11th-place finish last term, lacking both the intensity and offensive sharpness that had made them one of the trickiest Italian sides to face.

Lautaro Martinez celebrates scoring for Inter. (@Inter)

Lautaro Martinez propels Inter’s strong start

Monza‘s brilliant last season suggested the test would be far from a formality for Inter, whose memories of a shock 1-0 home defeat against the Biancorossi probably in April still lingered in their minds.

In spite of having all of their summer signings available, Inzaghi opted for a conservative team as Yann Sommer and Marcus Thuram were the only new additions who immediately made the starting XI.

A focused start and a bold approach, aimed at recovering the ball high up the pitch, were all the hosts needed to break Monza‘s mild resistance in the space of just a few minutes.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan blazed the first chance of the night over the bar, but it was just a matter of seconds before Denzel Dumfries sprinted down the right flank to find Lautaro, who hit a first-time shot that stunned Michele Di Gregorio to give Inter the lead.

While the visitors still look threatening when Gianluca Caprari and Andrea Colpani were involved in their play, they failed to find effective solutions in the final third and couldn’t replicate the trademark intensity many admired last season, allowing the Nerazzurri to move the ball without much trouble.

The Nerazzurri were one step from doubling their lead seconds before the half-hour mark, when Federico Dimarco‘s left-footed effort fizzed past the far post at the end of a break led by Thuram with impressive pace.

Federico Dimarco reacts. (@Inter)

Arnautovic’s hand in Inter’s second

The opening minutes of the second-half saw the visitors attack more convincingly and two sliding tackles from Matteo Darmian and Hakan Calhanoglu proved crucial to clear a couple of potentially dangerous situations for the hosts.

Yet, Inter continued to effortlessly pose a threat almost each time they went forward, as they felt an increasing urge to score a second, which is arguably why Inzaghi made a triple change after 66 minutes bringing in Juan Cuadrado, Carlos Augusto and Marko Arnautovic, hoping their fresh legs could make his side sharper in front of the goal in the final stages.

More than 10 years after his unfruitful first Nerazzurri stint, the Austrian was visibly eager to finally leave a mark at the Meazza and he did so with one of his first touches, as he took on Pedro Pereira and pinpointed a low cross that was met at the far post by Lautaro to make it 2-0.

There was still time for Davide Frattesi and Yann Bisseck to make their Inter debuts in the closing minutes, as Monza could only watch Inter calmly control the game and go close to a third before the final whistle.

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