Romelu Lukaku scored twice as Inter Milan defeated Sassuolo 4-2 on Saturday in Serie A, moving them up to third with three games left in the regular season.
By the hour mark, the home team had three goals—Lukaku, Lautaro Martinez, and Sassuolo defender Ruan Tressoldi’s own goal—but the visitors responded with two more to keep Inter on their toes until Lukaku clinched the victory one minute from time.
Inter strengthened their hold on the top four as they increased their point total to 66, one more than Lazio in fourth place and five more than their neighbors AC Milan, who dropped to fifth place on Saturday after suffering a shocking 2-0 loss at Spezia.
“We cannot miss this opportunity,” said Massimiliano Farris, an assistant coach for Inter.
We wanted to provide a cushion since we still have so many crucial games left, including the Coppa Italia final and the semifinal of the Champions League.
“Today’s (other) results gave us the opportunity to compete at the highest level, and we did very well.”
In a fast-paced opening to the game, each club had a chance disallowed for offside. Lukaku then just missed with a shot before finding space and firing a long-range shot into the back of the net to give Inter the lead.
Tressoldi’s own goal, which increased Inter’s advantage as he attempted to intercept Raoul Bellanova’s cross, gave Sassuolo a dismal start to the second half.
Three minutes later, Martinez made it 3-0 with a long-range goal that was assisted by the unfortunate Tressoldi.
It was a tense end for the hosts until Lukaku scored a close-range goal with one minute remaining to secure the victory. Sassuolo had previously pulled two goals back through Matheus Henrique and Davide Frattesi.
Lukaku, who just turned 30 years old, has contributed to eight goals in his past four league games, tallying five goals and three assists.
“They always cause us a lot of trouble when we play Sassuolo at home,” said the player. We fell short last year,” said Lukaku.
Today was significant because it brought us one step closer to qualifying for the Champions League. We are well and want to keep winning games; we have won plenty this month.
Inter will play Milan in the second leg of the Champions League semifinal on Tuesday before going to the eventual champions, Napoli, with their greatest winning streak of the season now at seven games across all competitions.