Inter Milan showed their ruthlessness on the counter to beat Lazio 3-1 and go top of Serie A at the San Siro.
You got the feeling it may not be Lazio’s night when Wesley Hoedt was controversially adjudged to have fouled Lautaro Martinez in the penalty area.
He escaped with a yellow card after a VAR check, but the penalty stood and was duly rifled home by Romelu Lukaku.
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Lukaku got his second goal and 22nd of the season just before half-time despite initially being ruled offside, with VAR getting involved again to show the linesman was wrong.
Lazio were finally able to make their superior possession count when they pulled a goal back in the 61st minute thanks to Sergej Milinkovic-Savic's free-kick. It took a major deflection off Gonzalo Escalante’s hip to wrong-foot Samir Handanovic, who became only the 15th player to play 500 Serie A games.
Inter killed off all hopes of a comeback just minutes later when Lukaku surged past Marco Parolo to lay it off to his strike partner Martinez and give him the simple task of smashing the ball into an empty net.
In a week's time they have a top of the table clash against fierce rivals AC Milan, who are currently second in the league.
While Lazio are only seventh, they are equal on points with Napoli and Atalanta in fifth and sixth as well as being two points away from an all-important Champions League spot.

TALKING POINT - Strike partnerships are not dead

For a long while it was commonplace to play with two strikers leading the line.
In recent times, and basically in tandem with the decline in popularity of the 4-4-2 formation, strike duos have become much less common due to many managers preferring the tactical flexibility or fluidity offered by systems that use either a lone striker or front three - at least in top level English football anyway.
However, the performances of Romelu Lukaku and Lautaro Martinez while playing together highlight the virtues of using a front two in modern football. Both have a very broad array of skills as well as the mutual understanding to link up well on a regular basis.
Martinez is not only able to score but is also prolific in making blocks and interceptions. His pass completion and passes attempted stats may both be low, but his high ranking versus other forwards for assists and progressive passes suggest pass completion is merely a trade-off for the risky passes he does make.
Lukaku, on the other hand, is an even better scorer, much better in the air, a decent passer and is also commanding figure in the box who ranks extremely highly for touches in the opposition penalty area.
Fitting for Valentine's Day, it is a match made in heaven and it could prove to be a Scudetto-winning match by the end of the season too.

MAN OF THE MATCH - Romelu Lukaku (Inter Milan)

Who else? The Belgian striker now has 300 career goals for club and country - a remarkable feat. Tonight, with two goals and an assist, he was a threat in every way imaginable and looked as composed as one could be in front of goal and his work rate with and without the ball was admirable too. It was a near-faultless performance and it could be a pivotal one in the title race.


Inter Milan: Handanovic 7, Skriniar 7, De Vrij 7, Bastoni 7, Hakimi 5, Perisic 8, Barella 6, Brozovic 8, Eriksen 6, Lukaku 9, Martinez 8...Subs: Gagliardini 6, Sanchez 5, Pinamonti N/A, D'Ambrosio N/A, Darmian N/A
Lazio: Reina 5, Acerbi 7, Hoedt 5, Patric 6, Marusic 7, Lazarri 6, Alberto 7, Leiva 5, Milinkovic-Savic 6, Correa 5, Immobile 5...Subs: Escalante 6, Parolo 6, Caicedo 5, Muriqi 6, Pereira 6


19' - YELLOW CARD AND PENALTY!! Great link-up play between Lukaku and Martinez with lots of quick passing eventually putting Martinez through on goal. Hoedt makes a last ditch slide tackle and brings Martinez down in the process. A penalty is given too, but it looks like he may have possibly got the ball and the Lazio players are protesting it, so VAR will have a quick look.
21' - GOAL!!! VAR doesn't prove to be conclusive enough to overturn the decision and Lukaku rifles home the penalty for his 21st goal of the season!
45' - GOAL!!! Brozovic's sliding pass trickles through to Lukaku and he hits the back of the net after shooting the ball first-time on the bounce. It's initially disallowed but VAR shows that it took a slight deflection off Lazarri and that Lukaku was onside anyway, so it doesn't matter who it came off.
58' - CLOSE!! Patric miscontrols the ball and it falls to the alert Martinez on the counter. He plays it across to Hakimi, but his first touch is heavy and agonisingly for him, just as he's about to pull the trigger Parolo makes a fantastic sliding block to deflect his shot high and wide.
61' - GOAL!!! Lazio have pulled one back!! Milinkovic-Savic gets lots of power behind his free-kick and it takes a fortunate deflection off Escalante's hip to wrongfoot Handanovic and get Lazio back into this.
64' - GOAL!!! Inter kill off Lazio's smidgen of hope almost immediately thanks to an amazing Lukaku run! Brozovic does well in midfield to hold off a couple players and find him down the right flank with a long pass. He then surges past Parolo and lays off a simple pass for Martinez to smash into an open net.


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