Under pressure Inter head coach Simone Inzaghi is optimistic that Tuesday's 1-0 Champions League win over Barcelona "marks the beginning of something".

The Nerazzurri boss has come under fire following his side's inconsistent start to the season, with Sunday's 2-1 loss to Roma leaving them with 12 points from eight Serie A games. Inter have conceded 13 goals in those eight games too.

Defeat on Tuesday would have left Inter perilously placed in third in their Champions League group, having lost to Bayern Munich 2-0 at home on the opening matchday.

Instead Inzaghi, amid a school of thought he may lose his job if Inter lost to the Blaugrana on Tuesday, is looking for a new beginning for the Nerazzurri.

"We'd been waiting a long time for this, I am happy for the fans and the club, but we’ve achieved nothing yet, it needs to be a wonderful night that marks the beginning of something," Inzaghi told Sky Sport Italia.

"I wouldn't say it was unexpected. I said yesterday it was a great opportunity against one of the best teams in the world. We played with aggression, determination, as it’s the only way to beat these opponents."

Inzaghi, who took over after Antonio Conte's split with the club following their 2020-21 Serie A title, lifted two trophies last season, the Coppa Italia and Supercoppa Italiana, but ultimately fell short in the race for the Scudetto to Milan.

"I continue my work, there are moments that happen and I keep my head held high, because my staff, players and the club have done some great things over the last 15 months," he said.

"I saw a squad that is solid and fights together, otherwise you don’t get a result like this. I am happy, but these lads are the same ones who gave me two trophies just a few months ago and they know more than anyone we now have ground to make up."

Inter forward Lautaro Martinez promised Tuesday's result would usher in charge.

"Tonight is a special evening because it was a victory we needed," the Argentine told Inter TV. "Because of the way it arrived we enjoy it even more.

"We were in a period when the results were not coming, today we needed a win and it has arrived. From here on, things will change."

Goal scorer Hakan Calhanoglu, who netted his first Champions League goal since September 2016, added: "This game can really shake us up and change our season, because we want to build on it.

"As for qualification, we’ve got to stay calm and take it one game at a time."

A brilliant strike from Hakan Calhanoglu gave Inter a 1-0 Champions League win over Barcelona that moved them into second place in Group C.

The Nerazzurri had already seen a goal disallowed before Calhanoglu fired past Marc-Andre ter Stegen in first-half added time at San Siro on Tuesday.

The LaLiga leaders improved in the second period and saw a goal of their own ruled out when Pedri's tap-in was ruled out for an Ansu Fati handball.

But despite some late pressure and a penalty shout for Barca, under-fire Simone Inzaghi's men held on to earn three points which put them above the Catalan giants.

Inter thought they had a penalty when Joaquin Correa's flick came off Eric Garcia's arm, but after referee Slavko Vincic took a look at the pitchside monitor, Lautaro Martinez was deemed to be marginally offside in the build-up.

Correa then had a goal disallowed, showing great composure to take it around Ter Stegen and finish, only to watch the linesman's flag go up before he could celebrate.

Calhanoglu broke the deadlock for Inter with a superb strike in first-half injury time, taking a touch to control Federico Dimarco's pass before rifling into the bottom-left corner from 25 yards out.

Ousmane Dembele nearly levelled when his drive from a tight angle came back off the left post as Barcelona pressed after the interval.

Xavi's men then had a goal chalked off, as Dembele's cross caused havoc in the Inter box before Pedri applied the finish, but only after Andre Onana had tipped the ball onto Fati's hand.

There were strong claims for a Barcelona penalty in stoppage time when the ball appeared to come off Denzel Dumfries' arm, but no spot-kick was awarded following a VAR check and Inter clung on for three precious points.

Simone Inzaghi set Inter a 10-point target for their daunting Champions League group as Hakan Calhanoglu warned of the danger of shipping more gift goals.

A sleepy Inter defensive display saw the Nerazzurri toss away an early lead to lose 3-2 to Milan in Saturday's Serie A derby, with goalkeeper and captain Samir Handanovic having an off day.

While that is a recent concern, Calhanoglu pointed the finger at costly errors in Champions League games against Real Madrid and Liverpool last season.

A 1-0 group-stage home defeat to eventual champions Madrid was tough to take after Inter missed a host of chances before leaking an 89th-minute Rodrygo goal; then another dominant display at San Siro against Liverpool in the first knockout round proved worthless as two late goals gave Jurgen Klopp's team one foot in the quarter-finals.

Inzaghi's team face Bayern Munich in a tricky opener on Wednesday, and with Barcelona also in Group C, along with likely whipping boys Viktoria Plzen, the battle for places could be fierce. Only the top two go through to the knockout rounds.

Inter have home advantage for the first meeting with Bayern, and Inzaghi said: "We have to score 10 points in this group. which is objectively very difficult even compared to last year. But we are Inter and facing Bayern is an opportunity: they are one of the three to four candidates to win the trophy."

Last season saw Inter scrape together 10 points from their six group games, but the opposition, along with Madrid, was provided by Shakhtar Donetsk and Sheriff.

This time around it looks tougher to plot a route to double figures.

Midfield playmaker Calhanoglu said: "Last year, we dominated against Real Madrid and Liverpool. We had the games in our hands but lost due to small mistakes that changed the way they went.

"We need to be more focused and united on the pitch. We've analysed our mistakes and are ready. This year, we're in another difficult group, but this is what the Champions League is like. It's great to be involved and play against strong sides to see what point we're at."

In the Bundesliga, Bayern have drawn consecutive games against Borussia Monchengladbach and Union Berlin. This might be the time to face them, though Bayern have often punished teams in the past who thought that way.

"I have seen Bayern's last two games," said Inzaghi. "In terms of numbers, there has been no competition. The opponents have been good at limiting them with continuous aggression. Bayern have such intensity and aggressiveness as to be one of the best teams in Europe."

Inter and Bayern have met seven times in European competition, both sides winning three apiece, with one draw. Inter got the better of Bayern in the 2010 Champions League final on neutral ground at the Santiago Bernabeu, but the Germans have a 100 per cent winning record in away games in Italy in the rivalry (W3).

Bayern's Sadio Mane could become the fourth African player to reach 25 goals in the Champions League. He is currently one away, looking to join illustrious company in Didier Drogba (44), Mohamed Salah (36) and Samuel Eto'o (30).

The former Liverpool forward came in effectively to replace Robert Lewandowski, ahead of the Pole transferring to Barcelona.

Having to face both in the group stage will test Inter's fragile backline, but Inzaghi is backing his players.

"We met Mane already last year, he is a great player with a crazy intensity," Inzaghi said. "Lewandowski is another great player. In a month and a half we will meet them both: they are very difficult but very stimulating matches."

Inter maintained their perfect start to the Serie A season by dominating Spezia in a 3-0 win at San Siro, as Lautaro Martinez netted a thunderous strike to open his account for the new campaign.

Martinez drilled home from outside the area as Inter swiftly established control, with Denzel Dumfries and Romelu Lukaku guilty of missing excellent chances before half-time.

Hakan Calhanoglu gave the Nerazzurri breathing space with a neat right-footed finish shortly after the break, ensuring there was no need for the sort of last-minute heroics Inter required at Lecce last Saturday.

Joaquin Correa then came off the bench to tap in a late third, sending Simone Inzaghi's men to the top of the table at this early stage.

Bartlomiej Dragowski made an acrobatic save from Dumfries' eighth-minute header as Inter started brightly, before he Martinez at the end of a slaloming run five minutes later.

The Nerazzurri hit the front when Martinez fired a terrific effort into the bottom-left corner after latching onto Lukaku's flick-on after 35 minutes, before Dumfries was denied by the boot of Dragowski after racing clear.

Lukaku nodded against the crossbar and Martinez turned Dumfries' header over as Inter continued to dominate, although Inzaghi's side failed to build on their advantage before half-time.

Yet Inter needed just six minutes to double their lead follow the restart, with Calhanoglu reacting to a loose ball to side-foot into the bottom-right corner from inside the area.

Inzaghi withdrew Lukaku as the pace of the game slowed thereafter, but replacement Edin Dzeko had time to lay on an assist as he beat Dragowski before picking out Correa for a third goal 10 minutes from time.

What does it mean? Inter enjoy home comforts

Inzaghi was far from pleased despite Inter starting the Serie A season with a win at Lecce so would have been delighted with a far more convincing display when the Nerazzurri returned to San Siro.

Inter have now lost just two of their past 37 Serie A home games, with both of those defeats coming during a costly blip in February this year (against Sassuolo and Scudetto winners Milan).

Lautaro and Lukaku still perfect partners

Martinez and Lukaku combined for eight goals as Inter romped to the Serie A title in the 2020-21 season, making them the most effective partnership in the division.

Spending a year apart does not seem to have diminished their understanding, with Martinez opening the scoring in emphatic style after racing onto the Belgian's header.

Since the start of last term, only Ciro Immobile (28) and Dusan Vlahovic (26) have scored more Serie A goals than Martinez (22).

Calhanoglu continues purple patch

Former Milan man Calhanoglu may sometimes be hidden behind the headline acts mentioned above, but the Turkey international has certainly delivered recently for Inter –especially at home.

Calhanoglu's second-half strike means he has recorded a goal contribution in four consecutive league outings at San Siro (one goal, four assists).

What's next?

Inter travel to Rome to face Lazio in their next Serie A match on Friday, while Spezia host Sassuolo the following day.

Hakan Calhanoglu believes Inter are a stronger team than Milan despite the latter's Scudetto success, while he questioned the behaviour of Zlatan Ibrahimovic. 

Calhanoglu watched on as Inter lifted the Serie A title in the 2020-21 season, when he was playing for fierce rivals Milan. 

The Turkey international switched city allegiances by joining Inter for the following campaign, which finished with Milan winning the Scudetto and ending a 1,976-day wait for a trophy. 

That also marked the first time that Inter and Milan finished in Serie A's top two in consecutive seasons, but Calhanoglu says Simone Inzaghi's side are far stronger than their neighbours. 

"Inter are a much stronger team than Milan. We lost a derby that suddenly changed in the 75th minute after [Ivan] Perisic and I were substituted," the midfielder told Tivibu Spor.  

"We were leading 1-0, then we lost 2-1. The coach [Inzaghi] also contributed to that defeat, I told him. In the cup, however, we beat them 3-0. The team is very ambitious." 

Ibrahimovic could be seen smoking a cigar at Milan's title celebrations, where he took the microphone and told supporters: "Hey, send a message to Hakan." 

Calhanoglu insists he would not have behaved like Ibrahimovic, questioning his actions at 40 years old. 

"He's a 40-year-old man, I wouldn't do a thing like that if I was that age. He's not 18. He likes to be the centre of attention," he added.  

"This year he didn't contribute to the Scudetto, he hardly ever played. But he does everything to attract the attention of the fans. 

"I don't care at all. It's not right because he's someone who always calls me when I'm in Milan, who wants to go out for dinner and ride a motorcycle with me. 

"I respected him. He also wrote about me in his book, he had to write these things or his book would be empty. I won't answer him, it's better not to answer." 

Inter kept alive their Serie A title hopes with a 1-0 Derby d'Italia win over Juventus at the Allianz Stadium on Sunday.

Simone Inzaghi's side were second best in the first half, yet they went ahead moments before the interval courtesy of Hakan Calhanoglu's twice-taken penalty.

Juve huffed and puffed in the second half but they were unable to find the leveller that would have stretched their unbeaten run in the Italian top flight to 17 games.

The result meant Inter remain in third, three points behind leaders Milan, while Massimiliano Allegri's Juve stay in fourth, seven points behind the Rossoneri having played a game more.

Juve started at a breakneck pace, and they almost went ahead in the ninth minute when Giorgio Chiellini diverted Samir Handanovic's dismal punch onto the crossbar from close range.

Paulo Dybala and Juan Cuadrado went close from distance soon after, while Alvaro Morata headed across the face of goal from a promising position.

Despite Juve's dominance, Inter went in at the break ahead in dramatic circumstances.

Wojciech Szczesny kept out Calhanoglu's initial spot-kick after Morata had clipped Denzel Dumfries, yet the ball ended up in the back of the net following an almighty scramble.

Referee Massimiliano Irrati chalked that off, though, after a Juve player had stepped into the area too early, with Calhanoglu making no mistake from 12 yards at the second time of asking.

Dusan Vlahovic whipped wide after a smart turn shortly after the hour mark, before substitute Denis Zakaria thumped the post as Juve's unbeaten run ended with a whimper. 

What does it mean? Inter's smash and grab

This was only Inter's second away victory over Juventus in their past 16 attempts across all competitions, and there is little doubt they rode their luck.

A dominant Juve finished the game having had 23 shots, while the Nerazzurri managed a mere five, with just one on target. That was the one that mattered, though.

Brozovic puts in a shift

Marcelo Brozovic was solid as a rock at the heart of Inter's midfield. The Croatia international had more touches 74 than any Inter player, while his seven tackles was two more than anyone else on the pitch.

Martinez shackled

Lautaro Martinez is Inter's top scorer in Serie A this season, but he did not have a sniff here. The Argentina international failed to have a single shot before he was replaced by Joaquin Correa in the 59th minute, while he might consider himself fortunate to have avoided a second yellow card for a late challenge on Chiellini.

What's next?

Both sides are next in action on Saturday when Juve visit Cagliari and Inter host Hellas Verona.

As Serie A returns this weekend, the standout fixture is the Milan derby. And this isn't just any Milan derby.

Champions Inter are setting the pace, with 16 wins and just one defeat in 22 games. They are the top scorers in the division, with 53; they have the most points, with 53. The league's second-best goalscorers are their city rivals, who are only four points behind, albeit having played a game more.

With Juventus having slipped from their perch, Milan and Inter have become Italy's trendsetters once more. They are the leading exponents of Serie A's modern trend: that of shunning catenaccio in favour of front-foot, attacking football. And, with all due respect to second-place Napoli, they are undoubtedly the favourites to occupy the top two places come the end of the season.

All this means Saturday's clash at San Siro should be one to savour...

 

'BORING, BORING SERIE A...'

Matchday 21 of Serie A saw 39 goals scored across only 10 matches. In Europe's top five leagues in 2021-22, only matchday 14 of the Bundesliga (41 goals) and matchday nine of the Premier League (40) produced more goals across a set of fixtures.

That was no aberration, either. Of the 10 highest-scoring matchdays in Europe's big five leagues this term, five have come from Italy. Indeed, Serie A has been averaging over three goals a game for the past three seasons, a rate last seen 70 years ago.

It follows that the two teams best embracing that trend are competing for the Scudetto. Not only have Inter (53) and Milan (47) scored the most Serie A goals in 2021-22, but they have embraced a style that lends itself to creating as many opportunities as possible.

Milan (eight) and Inter (seven) are the teams with the most goals after an open-play sequence of 10 or more passes. When it comes to open-play shots, the Nerazzurri are second (274) and the Rossoneri fourth (265) in the division.

Interestingly, while Inter are top for expected goals (excluding penalties) with 40.9, Milan are down in eighth on 31.3. That means Stefano Pioli's men are outperforming their non-penalty xG total by almost 11 goals (when own goals are included), a tally bettered only by Lazio (16.6). There's a ruthlessness about them this season that's keeping them on Inter's coattails.

 

RELEASE THE HAKAN

Speaking of ruthless... boy, would Zlatan love to be involved in this.

A Scudetto winner with each club, Zlatan Ibrahimovic has great history in this fixture, with eight goals in league derbies (six for Milan and two for Inter). In the history of the fixture, only Giuseppe Meazza (12), Gunnar Nordahl (11) and Stefano Nyers (11) have scored more.

The 40-year-old scored twice in Milan's 2-1 derby victory in October 2020, the only one of the past 11 in the league in which the Rossoneri have come out on top. Unfortunately for them, injury has denied Ibrahimovic the chance of dealing further damage to his old employers.

Instead, the sub-plot burden falls on Hakan Calhanoglu, who made an acrimonious free transfer to Inter from Milan at the end of last season. His 32 goals and 42 assists in 174 appearances for Milan – he was top of the charts for both in his time at the club – made his move particularly painful to bear for supporters.

It was Calhanoglu who scored Inter's goal in the 1-1 draw in the reverse fixture this season, meaning Milan could become the third side, after Chievo and Fiorentina, against whom the Turkey star has scored in his first two Serie A meetings.

Among Serie A midfielders this season, only Antonio Candreva (59) has created more chances than Calhanoglu (50), while his 13 direct goal involvements are second only to Sergej Milinkovic-Savic (15). Not that Milan needed any reminders about his threat.

 

DERBY DAZE

Inter have won more games (67) and scored more goals (247) against Milan than any other team in Serie A history. They are also enjoying a run of six wins and only one defeat in the past 11 derbies, in which time their rivals have kept just a single clean sheet.

Since that loss to Milan in October 2020, Simone Inzaghi's side have gone 28 home league matches without defeat. This is their longest such run in the competition since a 46-match streak between April 2008 and November 2010, which was ended by a defeat in the derby courtesy of a goal from, yep, Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

Form, as well as recent history, is on Inter's side. Since the beginning of last season, they have lost only four of 60 Serie A matches – fewer than half the number of any other team (Atalanta are next best, with nine). In a league table of that time frame, Inter would sit top on 144 points, 16 clear of Milan in second.

 

HALF-MEASURES

Each of these teams is averaging more than two goals per game this season, they have both scored in 21 different league matches and they have each won by two goals on six different occasions. Again, it's safe to expect some attacking football.

If you want specifics, we would suggest not going anywhere midway through the first half. The average times at which Inter and Milan have scored and conceded the first goal in a game this season are between the 27th and 38th minutes. Best wait until the break before grabbing that espresso.

Alexis Sanchez was on the scoresheet as Serie A leaders Inter brushed aside Salernitana 5-0 at Stadio Arechi on Friday.

Linked with a possible January move to Barcelona in recent days, the Chile forward was handed just his third league start of the season and repaid coach Simone Inzaghi with his first top-flight goal since May.

Ivan Perisic and Denzel Dumfries had already put the Nerazzurri comfortably in control in the first half, the latter scoring his side's 100th league goal of 2021.

Substitutes Lautaro Martinez and Roberto Gagliardini added fourth and fifth goals for Inter, who now lead Serie A by four points with one game left this year.

Inter needed only 10 minutes to take the lead, Perisic given a free header six yards out from Hakan Calhanoglu's corner.

Edin Dzeko glanced a Dumfries cross wide before Salernitana came within inches of an equaliser against the run of play, Joel Obi denied a goal against his old club by Samir Handanovic after being played through by Franck Ribery.

Just three minutes later, Dzeko sent Dumfries racing through and the wing-back's strike crashed off the underside of the bar and, although it bounced away from goal, it had clearly crossed the line.

Dzeko should have nodded in a third before the break but managed to steer the ball wide after goalkeeper Vincenzo Fiorillo had flapped at thin air.

Yet Inter only needed six minutes of the second half to make it 3-0 after all. After a promising Salernitana attack broke down, Sanchez sparked a counter-attack before racing up the pitch and firing low past Fiorillo from Calhanoglu's pass.

Martinez, who came on for Sanchez, swept home from the middle of the box after the ball fell kindly to him, and Gagliardini drilled in a fifth with three minutes of normal time left.

Edin Dzeko was on target against his former side as Inter inflicted a 3-0 defeat on Jose Mourinho's Roma in Saturday's one-sided Serie A contest.

Mourinho was facing off against Inter in the league for the first time since guiding the club to a magical treble in 2009-10 – the second of two successful seasons at San Siro – but he suffered a painful reunion at the Stadio Olimpico.

Hakan Calhanoglu opened the scoring directly from a corner and then teed up Dzeko, who spent six seasons with Roma prior to swapping clubs in August, before Denzel Dumfries added a third in the first half.

Inter lost Joaquin Correa to a hamstring injury but eased to victory as they moved to within a point of leaders Milan. Napoli have a chance to return to the summit when they face Atalanta later on Saturday.

 

Roma have kept the most home clean sheets of any Serie A side in 2021 with 10, including four in their past five games, but they conceded after 15 minutes as Calhanoglu's corner caught Rui Patricio out at his near post.

The champions doubled their lead nine minutes later through Dzeko, who ended a six-game scoring drought in the league by turning home first time after being picked out by Calhanoglu.

Shortly after Dzeko had been denied by a good Patricio save, right wing-back Dumfries converted Alessandro Bastoni's cross with a diving header to put Inter out of sight by the 39-minute mark.

Roma were without a number of key players, including Lorenzo Pellegrini and Tammy Abraham, and that told as they struggled to find a way back into the match in a straightforward victory for Inter.

Inter moved back to within a point of Napoli and Milan thanks to a 2-0 win at Venezia on Saturday, as Hakan Calhanoglu scored in a third consecutive Serie A game for the first time in his career.

Simone Inzaghi's men defeated leaders Napoli last weekend to boost their title defence, and they never looked like dropping points in Venice.

Venezia, who were chasing a third successive Serie A win for the first time since 1962, failed to impose themselves in the first half and deservedly trailed at the break to Calhanoglu's low drive.

Only Bayern Munich and Liverpool had scored more goals than Inter across the top five European leagues before the weekend. While that did not translate to a free-scoring exhibition this time, Inter finished Venezia off with a late Lautaro Martinez penalty to keep pressure on the top two ahead of their Sunday outings.

Despite dominating, Inter did not threaten the Venezia goal until the 30th minute when Sergio Romero leapt across his goal to keep Ivan Perisic's header out.

Romero was helpless soon after, however, as Calhanoglu squeezed a skidding 25-yard shot just inside the left post.

Venezia almost levelled with their very first shot five minutes later, with Samir Handanovic tipping Mattia Aramu's long-range piledriver over the crossbar.

Aramu went close from distance again just after the break, this time just missing the top-left corner after cutting in from the right wing.

Inter woke up again as Edin Dzeko tested Romero, before Ridgeciano Haps cleared a Milan Skriniar header off the line to keep Venezia in the game.

Romero made several more fine saves, but the visitors finally got the clincher at the death. Haps was deemed to have committed a handball in the box and Martinez confidently dispatched the resulting spot-kick.

Simone Inzaghi urged Inter to build on their strong performance against Napoli after ending the Serie A leaders' unbeaten start to the campaign.

Piotr Zielinski netted Napoli's first away goal in four league games against the Nerazzurri to open the scoring with their first strike at San Siro since April 2017.

However, Hakan Calhanoglu equalised from the spot before teeing up Ivan Perisic's header to put Inter 2-1 up at half-time, the Turkey international recording at least a goal and an assist in a Serie A match for the 10th time since his debut in 2017-18.

Lautaro Martinez seemed to have put the game out of Napoli's reach, though substitute Dries Mertens' pulled one back to overtake Antonio Vojak as the club's leading scorer in the Italian top flight with his 103rd goal.

The defending champions managed to hang on to end Napoli's 21-game unbeaten league run, taking them within four points of the top two, and Inzaghi wants more from his side ahead of a crucial Champions League clash with Shakhtar Donetsk on Wednesday.

"It was a key game for the season, although the most important one will be in three days' time," Inzaghi told DAZN.

"We beat a very strong Napoli side and we did it deservedly too. It's always going to be a struggle against Napoli, especially as they have on average the highest possession statistics in Serie A this season with 60 per cent.

"We must continue like this. We've got to focus on the Champions League next because it's been too many years that Inter haven't got past the group phase and we have a big opportunity to achieve it.

"Wednesday we have a great chance, we have some injuries but it's a moment like this for everyone. We have to move forward match after match. We have left some points because the Champions League is very important for us."

Inter had Samir Handanovic to thank for the three points after his stoppage-time save against Mario Rui in which he tipped onto the crossbar from the left-back's header at the back post.

Mertens then blasted over during a chaotic eight minutes of additional time and Inzaghi admitted he was concerned in the closing stages while explaining why Calhanoglu got to take the first-half penalty.

"We had been a whisker away from winning several of the other head-to-head clashes, so a little fear was inevitable towards the end during eight minutes of stoppages," he added.

"We had tests in training, Perisic, Calhanoglu and Lautaro took three penalties each and scored all three, so I said just decide between yourselves! Hakan is in great shape at the moment and I wouldn't have taken him off if he wasn't on a yellow card today."

Inter handed Serie A leaders Napoli their first defeat of the campaign as Hakan Calhanoglu recorded a goal and an assist in a 3-2 home victory on Sunday.

Napoli had not scored in any of their past four away league games against the Nerazzurri but Piotr Zielinski netted their first since April 2017 after 17 minutes to open the scoring at San Siro.

Calhanoglu soon levelled from the penalty spot before assisting Ivan Perisic's header that put Inter into the lead before the interval.

Lautaro Martinez added a third just after the hour mark and, despite a wonderful strike from substitute Dries Mertens, the reigning champions triumphed to close the gap on Milan and Napoli to four points at the summit, ending the visitors' 21-match unbeaten Serie A run in the process.

Martinez headed over as the highest scorers in the division looked to strike first against a defence that had conceded just four goals this term.

However, it was Napoli who took the lead when Zielinski arrowed into the top-right corner from the edge of the area following Lorenzo Insigne's offload.

That advantage lasted all of eight minutes as Calhanoglu rolled his spot-kick into the bottom-left corner after VAR deemed Kalidou Koulibaly to have handled Nicolo Barella's effort.

Calhanoglu turned provider for Inter's second as Perisic flicked the Turkey international's corner past David Ospina a minute before half-time.

Napoli's task mounted further when Martinez drilled into the bottom-left corner after Joaquin Correa's pass on the counter.

Inter seemed set for a comfortable victory until Mertens fired into the top-left corner after Koulibaly dispossessed Edin Dzeko, though the hosts managed to cling on thanks to Samir Handanovic tipping Mario Rui's late header onto the crossbar.

Inter midfielder Hakan Calhanoglu scored a penalty against his former club Milan, who missed out on an opportunity to go top of Serie A in a 1-1 derby draw at San Siro.

Calhanoglu - who joined the blue half of Milan from the red side on a free transfer in July - won and then converted an early spot-kick, but Inter were pegged back soon after as Stefan de Vrij scored an own goal.

The Nerazzurri were handed a second penalty in the first half, but Ciprian Tatarusanu saved Lautaro Martinez's strike from 12 yards to keep his side level. 

Inter looked the more dangerous side in the second half, yet were unable to secure the victory. However, simply denying Milan three points meant the title-chasing Rossoneri were unable to leapfrog Napoli, who also drew 1-1 with Hellas Verona.

Calhanoglu opened the scoring against his former club, earning a penalty from Franck Kessie before powering the spot-kick down the middle in the 11th minute following a lengthy VAR check.

Inter's lead did not last long, however, as De Vrij inadvertently headed into his own net past Samir Handanovic just six minutes later after losing the flight of a cross from the left.

Milan then conceded a second spot-kick, with Fode Ballo-Toure scything Matteo Darmian down in the box, but Martinez stepped up this time and Tatarusanu produced a superb save from the striker's well-struck effort in the bottom-left corner.

Inter twice looked certain to re-take the lead shortly before the break when Nicolo Barella's shot was hacked off the line by Ballo-Toure before Martinez fired narrowly wide.

The Nerazzurri continued to push for a second after half-time and created a number of chances, including Calhanoglu's fizzing effort across goal, which was missed by both Martinez and Edin Dzeko.

Substitute Alexis Saelemaekers struck the post and Kessie skewed the rebound wide in the Rossoneri's best chances to win the game late on, but ultimately neither side was able to find a winner in the closing stages.

The transfer window officially closed on Tuesday, meaning clubs across Europe must now make do with the players available to them until at least January.

It has been an eventful few months, with Lionel Messi ending his 21-year association with Barcelona by joining Paris Saint-Germain and Cristiano Ronaldo sealing an emotional return to Manchester United from Juventus.

The drama continued to unfold right through until the final stages of the window as Antoine Griezmann rejoined Atletico Madrid on an initial loan and Chelsea snapped up Saul Niguez from the Spanish champions, while Real Madrid brought in rising star Eduardo Camavinga from Rennes.

With Kylian Mbappe staying at PSG and Harry Kane still a Tottenham player, Jack Grealish's £100million switch to Manchester City from Aston Villa was the biggest deal in monetary terms, followed by Romelu Lukaku's £97.5m (€115m) move to Chelsea from Inter.

Stats Perform takes a look at the best deals that went through.

Hakan Calhanoglu: Inter to Milan (free transfer)

After failing to agree new terms at Milan, Calhanoglu completed a shock move across the city to rivals Inter, signing a three-year deal.

While not necessarily the most popular transfer, getting a player who created 98 chances last season – the most of any player in Europe's top five leagues – for free is quite something.

The Turkey international got a goal and an assist on his debut in the 4-0 win over Genoa, prompting coach Simone Inzaghi to proclaim the player "doesn't realise how good he is".

Manuel Locatelli: Sassuolo to Juventus (loan with €25m obligation)

One of Italy's most prized young assets, Locatelli secured a move to Juventus on a two-year loan that includes an obligation to buy for an initial €25m.

Among midfielders in Serie A last season, the 23-year-old made the most touches (3,304), passes (2,749) and tackles (81). He then impressed as Italy won Euro 2020, scoring twice in the group-stage win over Switzerland.

For a club looking to strengthen while saving money, this could prove a shrewd deal for Juve.

 

Danny Ings: Southampton to Aston Villa (£25m)

Villa appear to have invested the money they received for Grealish in shrewd fashion, signing Leon Bailey, Emiliano Buendia and striker Ings.

While the Ings deal materialised very quickly in early August, he certainly did not seem to need much time to adjust to new surroundings, scoring twice in his first three league games this season.

With 34 goals across his final two league campaigns with Southampton, there is reason to think the 29-year-old could be one of the smartest signings of the window.

Lionel Messi: Free agent to Paris Saint-Germain

The most spectacular free transfer of all time came after Barcelona had agree a new contract with Messi only to be forced to admit they could not let him sign it due to financial restrictions.

A tearful Messi bade farewell to his boyhood club before securing a move to PSG, who now boast a frankly terrifying forward line of Messi, Neymar and Mbappe.

Describing it as a 'free' transfer is somewhat misleading given the various costs involved in the different aspects of the deal, but for PSG to sign arguably the greatest player in history without paying a transfer fee is pretty amazing business.

 

Romelu Lukaku: Inter to Chelsea (£97.5m)

Chelsea smashed their transfer record to bring back Lukaku, whose last action in his first spell at the club was to miss a penalty in the UEFA Super Cup shoot-out loss to Bayern Munich in 2013.

Lukaku plundered 24 goals and 11 assists in 2020-21 to fire Inter to the title and claim Serie A's MVP award, after which he pushed for a return to Stamford Bridge, where he felt he had unfinished business.

It might have been a serious financial outlay, but Lukaku showed in the 2-0 win at Arsenal what a difference he could make to a Chelsea side who are extremely tough to beat but not exactly free-scoring.

Eduardo Camavinga: Rennes to Real Madrid (€30m)

Madrid may have missed out on top target Mbappe, but they managed to get a deal over the line for fellow Frenchman Camavinga, bringing an end to 18 months of speculation surrounding the young midfielder.

It is the first time Madrid have spent money on a transfer fee since 2019, when they signed Eden Hazard from Chelsea for €100m, and in Camavinga they are signing a player for the here and now rather than the future.

Since making his debut for Rennes in April 2019, no player in Ligue 1 has attempted (230) or won more tackles (139) than the three-cap France international, who will now provide competition for Casemiro, Toni Kroos, Luka Modric and Federico Valverde.

 

Saul Niguez: Atletico Madrid to Chelsea (loan with option to buy for £30m)

After being regularly linked with the likes of Manchester United and Liverpool in recent years, Saul will finally get a chance to play in the Premier League with Chelsea this season.

A box-to-box midfielder, the Spain international is at his best operating in a central role, though his versatility and workrate have often seen him deployed out wide by Atletico coach Diego Simeone.

He made just 22 league starts last season, his lowest figure since 2014-15. However, since August 2019, Real Madrid's Casemiro (190) is the only midfielder to have attempted more tackles than Saul (159) in LaLiga.

Antoine Griezmann: Barcelona to Atletico Madrid (loan deal with an obligation to buy)

Two years after leaving Atletico in a big-money transfer, Griezmann has returned to the Spanish capital to boost an attack that already includes Luis Suarez, Joao Felix, Angel Correa and fellow new recruit Matheus Cunha.

Griezmann's Camp Nou career never truly took off and he failed to score or create a single opportunity across Barca's first three league games this season.

But Simeone will be confident he can get the Frenchman, who scored 94 LaLiga goals in 180 appearances in his first stint at the club, operating at somewhere close to his former glory.

 

Cristiano Ronaldo: Juventus to Manchester United (£12.9m rising to £19.7m)

Twelve years after departing Old Trafford, Ronaldo is once again a Manchester United player after completing a surprise return to the club where he won the first of his five Ballons d'Or.

Ronaldo scored 118 goals in 292 appearances under Alex Ferguson in his first spell, 42 of those goals coming in the 2007-08 season alone, and he remains a prolific forward despite his all-round game changing with time.

The Portugal captain scored 29 league goals in his third and final season with Juventus to win the Capocannoniere, making him the first player to finish as top scorer in Serie A, LaLiga and the Premier League.

Inter boss Simone Inzaghi believes Hakan Calhanoglu "doesn't realise how good he is" after a stunning debut performance against Genoa on Saturday.

After joining from city rivals Milan in the close season, Calhanoglu marked his first appearance for the Nerazzurri with a superb goal and an assist for Milan Skriniar in his side's 4-0 win.  

Those two goal involvements came inside the first 14 minutes – it took him nine games to achieve that at the start of his Milan career.

Arturo Vidal added a third in the second half before former Roma man Edin Dzeko marked his Inter bow with a header in the 87th minute.

Champions Inter have now scored three or more goals in four successive Serie A home matches for the first time since 2011, when did they did it in six games.

Inzaghi was not surprised by his side's dominant display, and the former Lazio boss was particularly pleased with Calhanoglu's contribution.

"I was pretty confident the team would do well, as I've seen them working with enthusiasm and hunger since July 8, eager to learn new concepts," he told DAZN.

"We couldn't have asked for a better start, especially in front of our fans back in the stadium.

"Calhanoglu is a great player, able to unite quality and quantity. He ran so hard for the team as well. Every time I played against him, he caused me problems.

"We were fortunate enough to pick him up and I think he can get stronger, because he doesn't realise how good he is."

 

Inter lost last season's top scorer Romelu Lukaku to Premier League side Chelsea this month and Inzaghi confirmed that the club intend to dip into the transfer market to replace him, despite the arrival of Dzeko.

"Naturally we need to complete the squad, as Romelu Lukaku's departure was unexpected," he added.

"Dzeko has already shown what kind of player he is. Hopefully we'll bring in someone else who can score big goals."

Saturday's win at San Siro means Inter have won each of their last seven Serie A meetings with Genoa by an aggregate score of 25-0, while they are the first side to have scored four or more goals in their first game of the season in three successive campaigns since they did so between 1959 and 1961.

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