STADIO GIUSEPPE MEAZZA (Milan): Romelu Lukaku was as close to his very best as Inter have seen since his return to the club last summer, and the Belgian did more than play his part as he led the Nerazzurri to a 3-1 comeback win over Lazio. The result means that Napoli can seal the Serie A title on this Matchday 32 with a win at home to Salernitana.
For long periods on Sunday it seemed a though the champagne would have to stay on ice in Naples, with the hosts just unable to make their dominance count.
In what was a very Intery first half, Simone Inzaghi’s side were well on top for large parts but failed to take advantage. Probing from early on, Inter were just unable to carve out as many chances as they should have and were wasteful in the final third, particularly on the left as Federico Dimarco and Joaquin Correa failed to find Lukaku with poor attempts at crossing.
The Nerazzurri had considerably more joy down their right though. From there, Danilo D’Ambrosio and Matteo Darmian were more accurate with their final ban, and chances were being created. It was from there that they looked to have opened the scoring, getting in behind before Henrikh Mkhitaryan finished from the edge of the box, only for VAR to rule it offside. Lukaku, Nicolo Barella and Mkhitaryan all came close.
Despite having offered next to nothing in attack, Lazio led within a couple of minutes of Mkhitaryan having the ball in the net at the other end. Ex-Lazio man Francesco Acerbi had a huge hand in his former side going ahead, making a mistake at the back that allowed Felipe Anderson to have the space and time to finish past Andre Onana.
Acerbi had a largely miserable afternoon. Having been at fault for Lazio’s opener, he almost gifted them a second before half time. His misfortune continued into the second half as, after losing his footing for the third of fourth time, the Meazza reacted with loud whistles. That same response awaited another ex-Lazio man in Correa as he again mishit a cross from the left to send the ball behind for a goal kick. When the Argentine was taken off in the second half for compatriot Lautaro Martinez, the volume of those whistles increased again.
While Inter stayed on top, they had Onana to thank for not falling further behind as he pulled off a couple of good saves to keep the Biancocelesti from netting a second.
Changes spark life into Inter
Inzaghi made a number of changes, with Hakan Calhanoglu and Lautaro following half-time arrival Denzel Dumfries, and they did make a difference. Inter stayed on top but with more purpose and intensity than in the first half, but they still struggled to really get behind Lazio for the first 25 minutes or so after the restart.
Ivan Provedel was lucky that a poked Barella effort from the edge of the area was off target, but the Lazio goalkeeper then pulled off a fine stop to deny Dimarco. A big chance came and Denzel Dumfries should have levelled when he found himself on the end of a Lukaku cross that the Belgian himself would have seen as a dream delivery, but the Dutchman couldn’t even put his shot on target and instead fired back across the box. Lukaku was on the end of a ball from Dimarco but headed wide.
The Belgian more than played his part as Inter drew level. Taking the ball outside the area with his back to goal, he looked his best as he held off defenders to slip Lautaro through, and the no.10 made no mistake, raising the noise levels around the Meazza.
Lukaku wasn’t finished there though. Just as he had put the ball on a plate for Dumfries to miss earlier, he delivered a pinpoint ball to that same back post for Robin Gosens to arrive onto. This time, Gosens through himself at the ball in mid-air and did well to keep it down and finish through Provedel’s legs.
Just as Acerbi had gifted his ex-side the lead, Matias Vecino repaid the favour and undercut a pass to put Lautaro through on goal. Having his initial shot stopped by Provedel, the rebound fell to the Argentine’s feet and he tapped into an open goal.
Inter’s comeback win now means that Napoli can seal the scudetto with a win at home to Salernitana.