Inter Milan come from behind to defeat Lazio

Lazio travelled to Milan on Sunday to face sixth-placed Inter – only three points would satisfy the hosts who find themselves firmly in a battle for a top four finish. Lazio have continued to impress this season, as goals from Ciro Immobile and Mattia Zaccagni have propelled the Roman side towards the summit of Serie A.

There were no fresh injury concerns for either club, with long term absentee Dalbert and imposing centre-back Milan Škriniar the only players ruled out. Inter Milan’s hectic domestic and European schedule has had an adverse effect on their league form as of late – Simone Inzaghi’s side have picked up just one league win in their previous six fixtures. As for Lazio, four wins from their previous five matches have seen the Aquilotti rise to second place.

INT: Onana; D’Ambrosio, Acerbi, Bastoni, Darmian; Barella, Brozović, Mkhitaryan, Dimarco; Lukaku, Correa

LAZ: Provedal; Marušić, Casale, Romagnoli, Hysaj; Milinković-Savić, Cataldi, Luis Alberto; Anderson, Immobile, Zaccagni

A well contested first ten minutes saw Brozović test Provedal early on with a well struck left footed effort that would have crept into the bottom corner, but a smart save from the Italian stopper denied the Croatian. Inter began to take a grip of the game as the half progressed – the home side saw the lion’s share of possession but were unable to trouble the Lazio keeper.

Inter thought they had found the opener in the 24th minute when an exquisite ball through to Correa from Brozović was cut back for Mkhitaryan to stroke home. The video assistant referee came to Lazio’s rescue though, as the goal was chalked off for offside.

The scare sparked Lazio into life, as the away side took the lead in the 30th minute. A sloppy touch from the experienced Acerbi saw Felipe Anderson sneak in to win the ball just outside the Inter box. The ball fell to Luis Alberto, who faked a shot before rolling the ball back to former West Ham man Anderson who placed the ball into the bottom corner, out of Onana’s reach.

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Lazio had a golden chance to take a two-goal lead into the break. Another defensive error from Acerbi saw Zaccagni stride through the wide open Inter midfield before playing in Immobile, but his curled attempt towards the far corner was pushed away by Onana – and Felipe Anderson could only blaze the follow up over. Referee Marco Guida brought an entertaining first half to a close, with Lazio perhaps disappointed not to be further ahead.

Inter manager Inzaghi turned to his bench for the start of the second half, with wing-back Dumfries replacing D’Ambrosio. The first attempt of note for Inter in the second period saw a whipped delivery from Dimarco touched goalward by Barella – but his effort flew just wide of the post with Provedal stranded. Inter had yet to get their patterns of play going since the break with passes going astray from the usually reliable Mkhitaryan. Lazio continued to pose a threat at the other end, as a short corner was eventually worked to Luis Alberto in the box whose effort was straight at Onana.

The introductions of Martínez and Çalhanoğlu began to give Inter the added impotus they needed. Dimarco continued to look lively for the Nerazzurri, though his crisp drive flew narrowly wide. A lifted ball through from Dumfries saw Martínez stride through on goal – Lazio defender Casale did fantastically well to recover and win the ball before the Argentine could get a strike away.

Inter committed more bodies forward as the pressure on the Lazio defence ramped up. That pressure proved to be too much for the visitors, as a delightful ball through the heart of the defence for Martínez was dispatched clinically past the onrushing Provedal to level proceedings. Martínez’ 77th minute strike was his 20th of a brilliant season.

Only a win would do for Inter, and they took a huge step towards three points – with substitute Gosens’ 83rd minute strike putting the home side ahead. An inch-perfect cross from Lukaku was finished emphatically by the German full-back, who took a heavy fall on landing. The goalscorer was unable to continue, but his contribution looked to be a telling one.

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The game as a contest was over in the 89th minute as the influential Martínez notched his second and Inter Milan’s third. The forward was played through a tiring Lazio defence, and his initial strike was well saved by Provedal but fortune looked upon the Inter striker as the ball landed back at his feet to roll into an empty net. The goal sapped the life from the away side who had accepted defeat – six minutes of injury time followed, with Inter happy to protect their lead as they shut out Lazio’s sporadic advances.

An impressive second half performance handed a vital three points to Inter Milan. Inter move up to 4th, level on points with AS Roma and city rivals AC Milan. The result hands Napoli an opportunity to claim their first Scudetto since 1990 if they beat Salernitana today. Inter travel to struggling Verona on Wednesday and will be expecting to record back-to-back victories. Lazio entertain Sassuolo with Mauricio Sarri’s men hoping to cement their place in 2nd.