Genoa 0-3 Inter: Lukaku sparkles in first win in three for Nerazzurri

By Sports Desk July 25, 2020

Romelu Lukaku scored twice as Inter returned to winning ways with a 3-0 Serie A success at Genoa.

Consecutive draws had seen the Nerazzurri pass up the opportunity to properly capitalise on Juventus' shaky form, with the leaders still able to seal the Scudetto against Sampdoria on Sunday.

But even with their title hopes virtually extinguished, Antonio Conte's side were back on their game at the Luigi Ferraris to move up to second.

Lukaku nodded in his 22nd league goal of the season 34 minutes in and, after Alexis Sanchez added a late second, got his 23rd with a marvellous individual effort, leaving Genoa still just four points clear of the bottom three, having played a game more than 18th-placed Lecce.

Pressure had steadily built on the Genoa goal after a slow Inter start, with Lukaku - at the heart of all of their best work - helping to create chances for Marcelo Brozovic and Christian Eriksen that were both squandered.

The Belgium striker made sure the visitors were in front heading into half-time, though, as he ghosted into the area to meet Cristiano Biraghi's searching cross with a firm header in off the post.

A curling Filip Jagiello free-kick provided a brief scare, yet a low-key second period saw few clear openings at either end.

Although Genoa belatedly threw men forward in search of an equaliser, they were swiftly caught out in defence at the other end and substitute Sanchez netted via the bar after fine work from Victor Moses on the right.

There was still time for Lukaku to produce the moment of the match, racing forward deep into stoppage time and cutting inside past desperate challenges to hammer in the third.

What does it mean? Inter up to second but focus on Europe

Inter's form has not been convincing since the season's restart, yet they climbed back up to second with just two league games remaining with victory.

Though their slim title aspirations remain alive, their focus now is surely on the Europa League, with a last-16 tie against Getafe less than two weeks away. Conte can be encouraged by the control his side largely displayed.

Lukaku key in games to come

Inter were well on top for much of this match, but it fell to Lukaku to be their driving force, playing the role of both creator and finisher. He might have had an assist even before scoring the opener.

The former Manchester United striker's form will be crucial heading towards the Europa League, with strike partner Lautaro Martinez still struggling for form.

Inter waiting on Eriksen impact

Conte's pre-match comments focused on Eriksen, who the coach believes is growing into his role at Inter.

Some supporters might not be convinced by the former Tottenham midfielder just yet, though, and he passed up a big early opportunity to net his fourth Nerazzurri goal, lashing over the top following a smart Lukaku lay-off.

What's next?

The fixture list does not make easy reading for Inter, even if their league season is essentially over. They face Napoli next, followed by Atalanta and Getafe. Genoa do still need points and visit Sassuolo on Wednesday.

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    Inter closed the gap on Serie A leaders Milan as Achraf Hakimi scored twice to help Antonio Conte's team to a 3-1 victory over Bologna.

    With Milan not playing until Sunday, Inter took the chance to move to within two points of their city rivals as they claimed a third straight league win.

    Romelu Lukaku got the ball rolling with his 12th goal of the season in all competitions, before Marcelo Brozovic's sublime pass played in Hakimi for a second.

    Emanuel Vignato's 67th-minute goal threatened to make things tense for Inter, but Hakimi's second – a fine finish at the culmination of a fantastic run infield – wrapped things up.

    Inter's early dominance told 16 minutes in when, having initially missed his attempted volley from Ivan Perisic's cross, Lukaku reacted sharply to curl a finish into the top-left corner, with covering defender Danilo only able to help it in.

    Lukaku should have doubled Inter's tally just after the half-hour, but a heavy touch allowed Lukasz Skorupski to make a brave stop.

    Inter did get their second on the stroke of half-time, however – Hakimi cruising in behind Bologna's defence and coolly side-footing in his second Serie A goal after latching onto Brozovic's inch-perfect pass.

    Another chance went begging for Lukaku after the restart, the Belgian just failing to sweep home after Alessandro Bastoni had flicked on Brozovic's cross.

    Lukaku turned provider when he teed up Alexis Sanchez, but Skorupski once more stood firm in a one-on-one.

    Bologna's goalkeeper rushed out to deny Lukaku again on the hour and Sinisa Mihajlovic's side – looking to win consecutive Serie A games against Inter for the first time since 1999 – made it count when Vignato lashed in from close range.

    Yet the contest was all but settled three minutes later as Hakimi cut in on his left foot and drilled in a low finish that Skorupski failed to get enough on.

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    But the hosts rallied late on and scored two headed goals from Juan Cuadrado crosses – Leonardo Bonucci netting an 89th-minute winner after Weston McKennie had equalised 12 minutes earlier.

    It marked the first time Juve have won a league game in which they have trailed in since November 2019 and Pirlo praised the attitude shown by his players to dig deep and pick up a vital derby victory.

    "When you lose every challenge, it becomes difficult to control the game," he told Sky Sport Italia.

    "We were too static and never filled the box when we did manage to find some width to put a cross in. It's difficult against a five-man defence.

    "We remembered after the break that the Juventus DNA is to put in heart and sacrifice. Once you can pin them back into their half, it becomes easier to get the breakthrough."

    Paulo Dybala tamely curled into Salvatore Sirigu's hands from Juve's only on-target attempt of a below-part first half but the champions got three shots on target in the second period.

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    "Not everyone can always give 100 per cent, but those who came on provided determination, dynamism and attacking spirit, which is what won us the game," he said.

    "When opposition teams clam up and are very organised, you have to keep moving the ball to create the spaces and stretch them out. 

    "We didn't do that in the first half, we did after the break. If we lack heart, we don't move it as quickly either, and it all comes together. 

    "Sometimes, it's not simple to find a breakthrough just by creating clean passing moves, you have to fight."

    Juve were on the verge of a sixth draw in their opening 10 games for the first time since 1965-66 before skipper Bonucci's last-gasp winner in Turin.

    And given the nature of his side's victory, with both goals coming from floated crosses into the box, Pirlo was asked if was a case of substance over style.

    "If that's true, our DNA must remain at the centre of the whole team," he said. "At times, games do get messy, we concede after a few minutes and our opponents defend well.

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    Juve are now up to third in the table, three points behind a Milan side who have a game in hand, and Pirlo's relief at full-time was clear to see.

    "It's more exhausting as a player, very different as a coach, but the feeling of victory is the same," he said.

    Torino's return of six points after 10 matches is their lowest Serie A tally since 2002-03 when they went down.

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    "We lost this game due to details," he said. "Considering our current form, we played the way we had to play, and there were details that made the difference, both in attack and defence.

    "Evidently, we still have more work to do. It's about how we track back, how we defend, how we cover the spaces, where our positioning is.

    "We had done it all so well, but a few errors and we get punished."

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    Andrea Pirlo's men cruised past Dynamo Kiev 3-0 in the Champions League in midweek, but they were badly off the pace against a Torino side who had only won once in Serie A prior to their visit to the Allianz Stadium. 

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