After Romelu Lukaku had helped Inter brush aside Empoli last weekend, it was the turn of strike partner Lautaro Martinez to become the Nerazzurri match-winner against Lazio and be crowned Player of the Week for Matchday 32 of the 2022/23 Serie A campaign.
The Milanese giants had not won back-to-back Serie A fixtures since February, but showed plenty of character to come from a goal behind to defeat the Biancocelesti 3-1 at the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza on Sunday afternoon, and move ahead of both AC Milan and AS Roma in the chase for Champions League qualification.
Martinez return to form timed perfectly
Although there is a Champions League semi-final with the Rossoneri on the horizon, the Nerazzurri must remain focused on qualifying for next season’s competition through a strong Serie A finish and the 2022 World Cup winner is peaking at just the right time to lead their top four charge.
With 13 minutes of normal time remaining, the Argentina international collected a Lukaku through-ball inside the Lazio penalty area with two players in close proximity but held them off to send an equaliser past Ivan Provedel. Then, after Robin Gosens had given Inter the lead, Martinez was quick to capitalise on a poor back pass by former Nerazzurri man, Matias Vecino, to bundle home a third goal that saved the Interisti a nervous final few minutes.
The 25-year-old has become a vital part of Inter’s success since arriving from Racing Club in the summer of 2018 and is the only player to have scored over 15 goals in each of the last three domestic campaigns, and his first brace since January saw the South American join Mario Corso in 10th place on the list of all-time Serie A goalscorers with 75 goals.
Trophy chances could rest on LuLa double act
While Lukaku did not add to the two goals he netted against Empoli on Matchday 31, the Belgian international added two more assists against Lazio, which were almost as influential as the finishing of strike partner Martinez, and how they continue to combine for the rest of the season will be crucial to their hopes of Champions League and Coppa Italia success.
The ex-Manchester United striker hit 64 goals during his previous two-season spell with Inter between 2019 and 2021, but his role as a chance-creator will be just as crucial during the final few weeks of a disappointing campaign and highlighted against the Biancocelesti. With the match edging towards a draw, Lukaku found wing-back Gosens with a wonderful curling cross to the back post, that the German converted acrobatically to take Inter to victory.