Sassuolo 3-4 Inter: Lukaku and Martinez shine bright against brave Neroverdi

Sassuolo fought back late but Inter held on to edge a chaotic seven-goal contest thanks to Lautaro Martinez and Romelu Lukaku braces.

Lukaku slots home the penalty which ultimately proved to be the winner for Inter.   -  GETTY IMAGES

Romelu Lukaku and Lautaro Martinez combined brilliantly as Inter Milan survived a late Sassuolo recovery to win 4-3 at Mapei Stadium on Sunday.

Defeat to Juventus before the international break shunted Antonio Conte's men down to second in Serie A but a superb performances from their front two trimmed the margin at the top back to a point.

Martinez made an early incision and Lukaku struck twice in seven minutes to establish a two-goal advantage at half-time, Domenico Berardi having fleetingly restored parity for the host.

The exceptional Martinez won the penalty for his strike partner's second and, in the 71st minute, dispatched a spot-kick of his own, although the visitor was made to fight for victory as substitutes Filip Djuricic and Jeremie Boga set up a grandstand finale.

 

Martinez's unerring finish from the edge of area in the second minute set the tone for a frenetic first half.

The Argentinian striker skewed a second chance wide and Sassuolo made the reprieve count through winger Berardi, who angled an excellent drive across Samir Handanovic in the 16th minute.

Martinez did soon have the ball in the net again, only for the goal to be chalked off due to Lukaku's foul on Federico Peluso.

A second disallowed strike followed, Francesco Caputo straying offside prior to a tidy finish, at which point Lukaku took command.

The striker cushioned Stefan de Vrij's pass, turned and fired Inter back ahead before converting from the spot in the 45th minute after Marlon dragged Martinez to the turf.

The strength of understanding between Inter's attackers was no clearer than when Lukaku, on a hat-trick, granted his team-mate the opportunity to dispatch a second.

Djuricic dived in on Nicolo Barella and Martinez converted the resultant spot-kick, although the Sassuolo midfielder went some way to making amends by poking in his side's second three minutes after the indiscretion.

Boga then weaved away from a couple of challenges and coolly found the corner nine minutes from time, but the Nerazzurri did just enough to get back to winning ways.

 

What does it mean? Nerves frayed but Nerazzurri show resilience

Conte will be displeased by his side's inability to see out the win in more straightforward fashion but he can take comfort from the fact Inter held its nerve in the moments that mattered most.

The side responded well to the disappointment of letting an early lead slip and stood tall under stern examination in the closing stages.

Martinez makes Inter's attack tick

There was no mistaking the stars of Inter's display and, although he will feel he could have had even more, it was the junior member of the strike duo that really excelled.

Martinez gave the host endless headaches and continues to look a forward destined to be considered world class in the years to come.

Sassuolo's defensive frailties laid bare

Roberto De Zerbi's side conceded four on two separate occasions in September and seemed to have done little to address its failings during the break between games.

Hovering above the relegation places on goal difference, the Neroverdi could do with new blood at centre-back as Marlon and Peluso did nothing to inspire confidence in defence.

What's next?

Inter entertains Borussia Dortmund in a crucial Champions League encounter on Wednesday before a weekend meeting with Parma at San Siro. Sassuolo visits Verona on Friday.

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