ROME – Romelu Lukaku scored twice to reach 300 career goals as Inter Milan moved above AC Milan to the top of Serie A with an impressive 3-1 home win over Lazio on Sunday.
Lukaku’s brace came in the first half as Inter made the most of their city rivals’ surprising 2-0 loss at Spezia on Saturday.
Inter, bidding for a first Scudetto since winning the treble under Jose Mourinho in 2010, are now one point clear of AC Milan, with Roma six points further back in third.
The stage is set for a mouthwatering Milan derby at the San Siro next Sunday.
“He (Lukaku) came back firing on all cylinders tonight and we need this Romelu. We need this determination and passion from everyone in the team,” Inter coach Antonio Conte said.
“I am happy for the lads, inevitably this must be a starting point for us and not the finish line. We know the next game is the derby with Milan, going into it above them is obviously much better.
“It’s going to be a fascinating game between two teams who have strong ambitions.”
Conte apologised on Saturday for appearing to show the finger to his former club’s directors at half-time of the controversial Italian Cup match at Juventus on Tuesday.
At the San Siro, Lukaku opened the scoring on 22 minutes from the penalty spot after Wesley Hoedt fouled Lautaro Martinez.
The Belgium forward then moved level with Cristiano Ronaldo at the top of the Serie A goalscoring charts just before the break, as he hit a loose ball first time on the half-volley for his 16th league goal of the campaign.
The deficit was halved just after the hour mark as Gonzalo Escalante’s free-kick was deflected to leave Inter goalkeeper Samir Handanovic flat-footed.
But Inter’s return to the summit was secured in the 64th minute as Lukaku turned the provider for Martinez.
A move which started at the edge of the home box and continued with Lukaku’s powerful run from the halfway line ended with Martinez side-footing in his 11th effort of the season.