As Inter Milan moved to the top of Serie A with a 3-1 victory over Lazio on Sunday, Romelu Lukaku scored two times and brought his tally to 300 career goals.
At the end of the first period, with the milestone goal, Lukaku netted a penalty and doubled his count. He also set up Lautaro Martínez, shortly after Gonzalo Escalante had given Lazio hope, for Inter’s third.
Inter coach Antonio Conte said, “Romelu has struggled a little lately, but it is natural to have dips in shape. “We need Romelu of this type, he’s back to his usual standards.”
Inter leapfrogged a point over AC Milan, which on Saturday shockingly lost 2-0 at Spezia. The two teams will meet next Sunday in the Milan derby.
“This has to be a point of departure for us… Otherwise, all the work we’re doing will be in vain,’ said Conte. “It’s always easier to go into the derby in the first place. It’s going to be a fun match between two teams with major ambitions.
Lazio ranks seventh, 10 points lower than Inter.
Inter knew that it could take a confidence-boosting move in the title race going into the contest, but Lazio was on a roll of six straight wins.
Before Inter was given a penalty for a mistimed tackle by Wesley Hoedt on Martínez, both sides had opportunities. Lazio protested vigorously, but to no avail, and in the lower-left corner, Lukaku hit the spot-kick.
The 27-year-old Belgian doubled his tally with another controversial half-time stroke, slotting in after the interception of Marcelo Brozović by a Lazio player deflected into his path. Initially, the goal was ruled out for offside but awarded on video analysis.
That was the 300th objective of Lukaku, between club and country.
When Escalante deflected in Sergej Milinković-free Savić’s kick in the 61st, Lazio momentarily threatened a comeback, but Inter restored its two-goal lead only three minutes later. Lukaku burst down the right, holding off a defender as he sped into the penalty area from within his half before rolling across for Martínez to tap into an empty net.