team— Aug 13th 2022
447 days on from his last competitive goal in an Inter shirt, it took just 82 seconds for Romelu Lukaku to find the net again. Indeed, he had last scored for the Nerazzurri on 23 May 2021 against Sampdoria, a day of celebration following Inter’s 19th Scudetto triumph. And then there was the matter of Lecce: on 26 August 2019, Big Rom’s Nerazzurri story began with a goal against the Giallorossi at San Siro. What was the best way to write the next, new chapter? By scoring. And he managed to do so in less than two minutes.
This is how Lecce vs. Inter, the Nerazzurri’s first game of the 2022/23 Serie A campaign, began. With city of Lecce having been showered with rain, Inter couldn’t afford to get it wrong in the mid-August clash against a newly promoted side with very little to lose in front of a noisy home crowd.
It was a convincing start. Dimarco played in a cross for Darmian, who knocked the ball across for Lukaku, and the Belgian was left with the easy task of nodding the ball over the line. Inter were ahead and very much in control, playing in a proactive fashion. The Nerazzurri looked particularly threatening through the centre, with the two centre-forwards – Lukaku and Lautaro were back together – very much involved and Barella making smart runs forward. Lecce were finding things difficult but started to play higher up the pitch after the half-hour mark. As for Inter, they failed to find a second goal, meaning the game was still open.
The second half began with Lecce grabbing an equaliser. Di Francesco, the home side’s most dangerous player, managed to pick out Ceesary, who fired across Handanovic to make it 1-1. It was a finish that made the Via del Mare erupt and things much more difficult for Inter. For a spell, a galvanised Lecce gained the upper hand. In the 61st minute, Handanovic reacted excellently to keep out Bistrovic’s free-kick. But then came a ferocious Nerazzurri response. During the second half, Inzaghi played all of the cards at his disposal. Bastoni and Mkhitaryan entered the fray, as did Dumfries and Dzeko, resulting in a switch to three strikers in a 3-4-3 formation. Denzel hit the post as the Nerazzurri sent ball after ball into the Lecce box. In total, Inzaghi’s men produced 33 crosses and had 70% possession. But the goal was still missing. Lautaro headed narrowly wide and was denied by Falcone. The goalkeeper then somehow stopped Lukaku from giving the Nerazzurri the lead in the 83rd minute. It seemed like it wasn’t going to be Inter’s night.
Correa also came on as Inter played in a 4-2-4 formation in the closing stages. The Nerazzurri were finally rewarded for their efforts right at the end of added time: Barella whipped in a corner, Lautaro flicked it on and there was Dumfries, who bundled it home with his body.
The whole bench raced to Denzel, who had decided Inter’s first match of the new season. A thrilling last-gasp 2-1 victory to start off with.
LECCE 1-2 INTER
Goalscorers: 2' Lukaku (I), 48' Ceesay (L), 95' Dumfries (I) Booked: Baschirotto (L), Brozovic (I), Darmian (I), Blin (L), Colombo (L), Hjulmand (L) Added time: 4' - 4'.
LECCE (4-3-3): 30 Falcone; 17 Gendrey, 6 Baschirotto, 4 Cetin (29 Blin 21'), 25 Gallo; 8 Bistrovic (19 Listkowski 74'), 42 Hjulmand, 16 Gonzalez; 27 Strefezza, 77 Ceesay (9 Colombo 63'), 11 Di Francesco (22 Banda 74'). Unused substitutes: 1 Bleve, 21 Brancolini, 10 Di Mariano, 24 Frabotta, 26 Ciucci, 31 Voelkerling, 80 Berisha, 83 Lemmens, 99 Rodriguez. Coach: Marco Baroni
INTER (3-5-2): 1 Handanovic; 37 Skriniar (19 Correa 88'), 6 De Vrij, 32 Dimarco; 36 Darmian (2 Dumfries 68'), 23 Barella, 77 Brozovic (22 Mkhitaryan 58'), 20 Calhanoglu (9 Dzeko 68'), 8 Gosens (95 Bastoni 58'); 90 Lukaku, 10 Lautaro. Unused substitutes: 21 Cordaz, 24 Onana, 5 Gagliardini, 12 Bellanova, 14 Asllani, 46 Zanotti, 47 Fontanarosa. Coach: Simone Inzaghi.
Referee: Prontera. Assistants: Mondin, L. Rossi. Fourth official: Mercenaro. VAR: Banti. VAR Assistant: Paganessi.
FULL-TIME! Inter beat Lecce thanks to Dumfries' goal at the death. The winning goal came about from Barella's corner, with the Dutchman converting at the far post following Lautaro's flick-on!
95' GOOOOOOOAAAALLLLLl! DUMFRIES AT THE LAST! 2-1 to Inter!
82' Falcone somehow denies Lukaku! Inter corner.
78' Lukaku bundles the ball over the line but the goal is ruled out
71' Lautaro heads wide from Bastoni's cross!
69' Dumfries hits the post!
61' Handanovic makes an excellent save to keep out Bistrovic's free-kick!
48' Ceesay scores for Lecce. 1-1.
SECOND HALF 46' The second half kicks off. No changes for the Nerazzurri.
HALF-TIME Inter lead 1-0 at the break thanks to Romelu Lukaku's second-minute goal.
39' Strefezza has Lecce's first meaningful attempt but Handanovic has it covered.
31' The ball is sent over the top for Di Francesco, but Darmian makes an excellent intervention!
20' Barella has a go on the volley but Falcone plucks it out of the sky.
2' GOAL! Lukaku opens the scoring, heading home from Darmian's assist. 1-0 to Inter!
1' The ball is rolling and Inter's 2022/23 Serie A campaign is officially underway!