Inter struggled in the first half of their Serie A Matchday 7 clash against Salernitana, but the individual brilliance of Lautaro Martinez turned the game completely in favour of the Nerazzurri, going on to win 4-0 on Saturday evening.
Simone Inzaghi decided to rest his captain with their Champions League clash against Benfica on Tuesday evening in mind, but as the match progressed, the Biscione coach realised that he needed the Argentinian striker to fire in the goals.
Salernitana had put up a good fight for an hour or so, and the momentum could have swung if Mateusz Legowski did not have a goal disallowed for offside – albeit correctly – after a VAR review. After Lautaro scored his second, the Granata completely collapsed and could not contain the Argentine.
Lautaro inspires Inter off the bench
Inzaghi decided to leave Lautaro on the bench and he paired Alexis Sanchez with Marcus Thuram in attack against Salernitana. As a duo, the Chilean veteran and the Frenchman struggled to develop an understanding, while the whole Inter team had been pegged back by the Granata at times.
Sanchez was replaced in the 55th minute and Lautaro demonstrated his potent finishing. He chipped the ball into the net for his first; his second was a thunderous finish from close range; he completed his hat-trick with a penalty after Thuram was fouled; and he added a fourth with a delicate tap-in.
The 26-year-old took five shots with all of them hitting the target, he completed 13 out of 14 passes, and scored a poker as they say in the Italian football vernacular. The Argentinian now has nine goals in seven Serie A appearances for 2023/24, and his performance against Salernitana further illustrates what a clinical finisher he is.
Inzaghi squad rotations almost get Inter undone
After one look of the Inter starting line-up against Salernitana, it was clear that Inzaghi wanted to have fresh legs for the Champions League Matchday 2 encounter with Benfica.
Francesco Acerbi, Davy Klaassen, Carlos Augusto, and Alexis Sanchez started ahead of Alessandro Bastoni, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Federico Dimarco, and Lautaro, and it was evident that some of those players who featured from the first whistle could not replicate the impact of the ones they replaced.
Klaassen is a fine technician, but he lacks the drive and the wisdom that Mkhitaryan possesses. Sanchez was a handy impact player in his first spell at Inter, and has valuable experience, but he cannot be compared with a striker like Lautaro, who is currently in his prime.
It was up to the Nerazzurri captain to save the day for the Italian giants, but the momentum could have shifted against a stronger opponent or if the Argentinian striker was not available.
Final score not a reflection on early Salernitana resistance
Although the score after the final whistle would indicate that Inter won comprehensively, it does not reflect on how well Salernitana played before the Nerazzurri brought on Lautaro Martinez.
The Granata produced some enterprising football at times and perhaps should have scored a goal or two. Jovane Cabral had a couple of chances that he could not convert while Grigoris Kastanos narrowly missed the target. Despite their efforts and excellent combination play, it was clear that Salernitana lacked depth and Inter can afford to bring Lautaro off the bench.
After seven rounds, the Campanian side are without a win, but upcoming fixtures against Monza, Cagliari, and Genoa should present them with opportunities to earn their first victory of the 2023/24 Serie A season.