Lautaro Martinez and Marcus Thuram shot Inter Milan four points clear at the top of Serie A with a goal each in Sunday’s 2-0 win at Lazio which continued their thrilling strike partnership.
Inter’s dynamic attacking duo made sure their team took full advantage of closest rivals Juventus only drawing at Genoa on Friday to put daylight between Simone Inzaghi’s side and the rest of the chasing pack.
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The pair have scored 22 of Inter’s 39 Serie A goals this term as they gun to beat local rivals AC Milan — nine points back in third after beating Monza 3-0 — to 20 league titles.
Argentina striker Martinez dedicated his goal to his hometown of Bahia Blanca, where a powerful storm caused the death of at least 13 people when the roof of a sports club collapsed.
“My city and family have been affected by the storm, I wanted to send a message,” said Martinez.
Inzaghi has never won the Scudetto as a coach but his team have been by far Italy’s best over the 16 matches played so far and continued their charge against a team where the coach spent most of his playing career.
His attentions now turn to Monday’s draw for the Champions League last 16, where he predicted a rematch of last season’s final with Manchester City.
Martinez sent Inter on their way five minutes before the break by netting his 17th goal of a remarkable season to date, pouncing on a dreadful Adam Marusic backpass before skipping around Lazio goalkeeper Ivan Provedel and prodding home.
And France forward Thuram doubled the away side’s lead in the 66th minute when after being set up by Nicolo Barella he rolled home his eighth club goal of the season.
That strike ended Lazio’s resistance and left Maurizio Sarri’s side 11th following a first home defeat since August, with Manuel Lazzari’s late red card for dissent the icing on a bitter cake.
– Reijnders delivers –
Milan strolled to victory at the San Siro in large part thanks to a stellar display from Tijjani Reijnders who opened the scoring with a brilliant third-minute strike.
The Netherlands midfielder collected Christian Pulisic’s pass just outside the area and then set off on a mazy dribble past five Monza defenders before poking his first home goal for Milan past Michele Di Gregorio.
“You always have to believe, we are not finished yet,” said Reijnders of Milan’s title hopes.
Also on target for Stefano Pioli’s team were teenage debutant Jan-Carlo Simic, who netted his first Milan goal shortly before the break, and Noah Okafor whose 76th-minute strike came following more fine play from Reijnders.
Simic, 18, doubled the hosts’ lead three minutes before half-time, ramming home Rafael Leao’s low cross before bathing in adulation from supporters as his parents wept with joy in the stands.
“It’s a dream for any kid to make your debut for a club like AC Milan and scoring on your debut is incredible,” said Simic to Sky.
– Bologna in top four –
Bologna have been the revelation of the season so far and will finish the weekend fourth after an impressive 2-0 win against top-four rivals Roma.
Nikola Moro’s 37th-minute strike and a Rasmus Kristensen own goal shortly after the break were enough for Bologna to claim their third win in four games and jump a point above champions Napoli and Fiorentina, who beat Verona 1-0 earlier in the day.
Motta has done a sensational job at Bologna after replacing Sinisa Mihajlovic in September last year, just over three months before his Serbian predecessor succumbed to leukaemia.
“I’m sure that Sinisa was watching over us, and giving us a hand,” said Motta.
Mourinho, whose team missed key attackers Paulo Dybala and Romelu Lukaku, drop down to seventh, three points from Bologna.
“Without Paulo, there’s no class, and without Romelu there’s no physical presence,” said Mourinho, who confirmed that he intends to stay at Roma next season.
Udinese are one point above the relegation zone after throwing away a two-goal lead to draw 2-2 with Sassuolo.