Lukaku brace helps Inter cruise into Coppa Italia last eight

Inter Milan claimed a routine win to reach the last eight of the 2019-20 Coppa Italia, putting Cagliari to the sword in a 4-1 triumph.

Romelu Lukaku celebrates a goal against Cagliari on Tuesday.   -  Getty Images

Romelu Lukaku scored a double to guide Inter Milan into the quarterfinals of the Coppa Italia as it breezed to a 4-1 win over Cagliari.

Lukaku is enjoying an excellent first season with the Nerazzurri following his move from Manchester United and went into Tuesday's clash at San Siro with 16 goals from 24 games in all competitions.

He added to that tally with a goal in each half against a Cagliari side, an impressive sixth in Serie A despite a poor run of form, needing only 21 seconds to open the scoring after Christian Oliva inadvertently played him through on goal.

His goals were sandwiched by a tap-in from Borja Valero and Antonio Conte's Serie A challenger was rarely threatened until Oliva atoned for his earlier error with an emphatically taken consolation.

 

Andrea Ranocchia restored Inter's three-goal lead late on and it will now switch focus back to an engrossing title battle with Juventus.

Lukaku was ruthless in punishing Oliva's error as he calmly slotted into the bottom-right corner and he would have had a second if not for a questionable offside decision, the Belgium striker adjudged to have strayed as he turned home a near-post cross in the 11th minute.

The former United man was unable to connect with Nicolo Barella's right-wing cross, but it mattered not as the delivery was bundled in by Valero at the second attempt.

Cagliari continued to afford Lukaku opportunities and four minutes into the second half he steered a difficult header into the net from another superb Barella ball into the box.

Radja Nainggolan, on loan at Cagliari from Inter, struck the post with a vicious drive, before Oliva beat Samir Handanovic with a rasping finish from Alberto Cerri's backheel lay-off.

However, poor marking at a corner allowed Ranocchia to make absolutely sure of victory as he converted from substitute Cristiano Biraghi's set-piece 10 minutes from time.

What does it mean? Inter takes step towards silverware

Inter has not lifted a trophy since winning this competition in 2011, but this was a performance of a side primed to end that drought. Conte's side was in control from the start and never lost its grip on the contest. Atalanta or Fiorentina will be up next.

Ruthless Romelu

Lukaku has adapted brilliantly to Italian football and he provided another demonstration of his significant goalscoring prowess with a clinical display.

No case for Cagliari defence

Oliva's howler meant they were on the back foot from the off, but Cagliari's defending, particularly in the first half, left a lot to be desired and on another day Inter would have won by a wider margin.

What's next?

Inter visits Lecce in Serie A on Sunday, when Cagliari is away at Brescia. These two sides meet again at the same venue in the league a week later.

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