REGGIO EMILIA - There’s something about matches between Sassuolo and Inter, the most-played early kick-off on Sundays in Serie A. In the sixth 12:30 kick-off on a Sunday between the sides, seven goals were scored like when the Nerazzurri won in 2013 and 2014. This time, it finished 3-4 to Inter thanks to braces from Lautaro Martinez and Romelu Lukaku. The Nerazzurri forwards played big roles in a match that seemed to be over in the 71st minute when El Toro made it 1-4 only for Sassuolo to fight back and make it 3-4 before a late siege of the Inter goal. The Nerazzurri will be back in Champions League action on Wednesday against Borussia Dortmund at San Siro and have now won seven from eight in the league, moving up to 21 points.
64 seconds in, Inter went ahead through a great Lautaro Martinez goal. Following a corner, Brozovic slid it to the Argentine who opened up his body before picking out the far corner. It was a great goal and the Toro’s third in as many games. Inter were moving the ball well and pegging Sassuolo back even though they needed a goal. In the 13th minute, Lautaro had a big chance to double the lead. Brozovic moved the ball to Gagliardini who sent the Argentine clean through against Consigli but he could only fire wide from a great position. Sassuolo suddenly drew level in the 16th minute. It was Berardi who made it 1-1 with a shot across goal from a tight angle. The goal boosted the home side’s confidence and they started to get further up the pitch. Inter looked to display more intensity and created more chances and the energy of Lautaro Martinez paid off. The Argentine found the net in the 27th minute after some great work by Candreva but it was disallowed following the use of VAR for a Lukaku foul. Sassuolo also scored through Caputo but that was ruled out for offside. The chances were flowing with Lukaku trying to do it all by himself in the Sassuolo area while Handanovic did well at the other end to get to the ball ahead of Caputo. The goal came in the 38th minute thanks to a combination of Stefan De Vrij and Romelu Lukaku. The Dutch player carried the ball forward before playing it to the feet of Lukaku who had his back to goal and he held off Peluso to turn and fire into the bottom corner. It was a deserved goal to make it 1-2 and 1-3 would come soon after. In the 45th minute, Lautaro won the penalty which Lukaku stepped up to take, sending Consigli the wrong way.
In total there were six goals in the first half (two of which were disallowed) and the chances kept on coming after the restart. And the stand-out player was undoubtedly Lautaro Martinez. Between minutes 53 and 57 he caused the Sassuolo defence all sorts of problems as he was denied by Consigli and Marlon, while Candreva and Biraghi also came close to increasing the Nerazzurri’s advantage. But it wasn’t all one-way traffic, with Sassuolo looking to cause Conte’s men problems with quick interplay in tight spaces. Caputo, one of the liveliest players on the pitch, shot off target and Traoré’s left-footed strike had to be smothered by Handanovic. Inter, however, responded and made it 4-1 in the 71st minute: Barella was chopped down in the box and Lautaro Martinez made no mistake from the penalty spot. Two for Lukaku and two for El Toro. Not since 2007 had two different Inter players scored two penalties in the same match: back then, Materazzi and Figo achieved this feat. Was that the end of it? No it wasn’t. Because Sassuolo managed to get back into the game: Djuricic beat Handanovic in the 74th minute to make it 2-4 and in doing so provided the home side with a new lease of life. Now with less certainty and a slightly more tense feeling, the Nerazzurri conceded again with 82 minutes on the clock: Boga found the net to make it 3-4. The hosts piled on the pressure in the closing stages and almost grabbed an equaliser when Berardi’s shot was redirected wide from close range. After five minutes of added time, the whistle was blown and Inter had held on for their seventh win so far this season. It was nervy stuff at the end, but men showed a lot of desire and determination. This was an excellent result ahead of the Nerazzurri’s next fixture in the Champions League.
SASSUOLO 3-4 INTER
SASSUOLO (4-3-1-2): 47 Consigli; 17 Muldur (22 Toljan 77'), 2 Marlon, 13 Peluso, 33 Tripaldelli; 14 Obiang (7 Boga 52'), 4 Magnanelli, 8 Duncan; 23 Traoré (10 Djuricic 66'); 25 Berardi, 9 Caputo.
Substitutes: 63 Turati, 64 Russo, 11 Defrel, 18 Raspadori, 19 Romagna, 35 Piccinini, 44 Ghion, 73 Locatelli, 77 Kyriakopoulos.
Coach: Roberto De Zerbi.
INTER (3-5-2): 1 Handanovic; 37 Skriniar, 6 De Vrij, 95 Bastoni; 87 Candreva (19 Lazaro 73'), 5 Gagliardini, 77 Brozovic, 23 Barella, 34 Biraghi; 10 Lautaro Martinez (16 Politano 72'), 9 Lukaku.
Substitutes: 27 Padelli, 46 Berni, 2 Godin, 13 Ranocchia, 21 Dimarco, 8 Vecino, 18 Asamoah, 20 Borja Valero, 30 Esposito.
Coach: Antonio Conte.
Goalscorers: 2' Lautaro Martinez (I), 16' Berardi (S), 38' Lukaku (I), 45' Lukaku (I) (pen.), 71' Lautaro Martinez (I) (pen.), 74' Djuricic (S), 82' Boga (S)
Bookings: Obiang (S), Duncan (S), Magnanelli (S), De Vrij (I), Muldur (S), Lazaro (I), Bastoni (I)
Added time: 1' - 5'
Assistants: Longo, Bottegoni.
Fourth official: Ghersini.
VAR and assistant VAR: Mazzoleni, Fiorito.