Antonio Conte has been impressed with Frank Lampard's maiden season in charge of Chelsea and believes the former England international can become one of the best managers in the world.

Lampard took over at Stamford Bridge after Maurizio Sarri's departure to take charge of Juventus.

Conte led Chelsea for two seasons preceding his compatriot Sarri, winning the Premier League in 2016-17 and bidding farewell with an FA Cup triumph a year later.

Inconsistent home form has undermined Lampard to an extent, but he won plaudits for successfully blooding youngsters such as Tammy Abraham and Mason Mount and had the Blues sitting fourth in England's top flight before the coronavirus pandemic brought a halt to proceedings in March.

"I think he is doing a really good job, Frank," Conte, now head coach at Inter, told Sky Sports.

"This is his second experience [as a manager] after Derby County and to manage a top team is not easy.

"I think he has the skills, the ability to become one of the best managers in the world. He has to continue to work in this way and I wish him the best for the future."

N'Golo Kante was one of the stars of Conte's Chelsea team – a dominant presence in holding midfield as the Italian's finely honed 3-4-3 cut a swathe through English football.

Sarri deployed the France international in more of a roving role, while his adaptability has again been on show under Lampard.

"In my opinion, he can play in every position in the midfield," Conte said.

"We are talking about an amazing player, a top player. He is fantastic with or without the ball and, when you have N'Golo in your team, you can think that you are playing with one player more.

"He is one of the best players I have had in my career as a coach."

John Terry's professionalism was a huge help to Antonio Conte in his first season at Chelsea even as the Italian was easing the Blues legend out of the first-team picture.

Conte steered Chelsea to Premier League glory during his maiden campaign at Stamford Bridge, with Michy Batshuayi's late winner at West Brom sealing the triumph three years ago to the day on Tuesday.

It was the fifth and final top-flight title Terry won with Chelsea, though his playing time in the 2016-17 campaign was heavily diminished.

The former England captain made just six starts and nine total appearances in the Premier League, but Conte said Terry was vital for keeping standards high.

"It was a great privilege for me to be the coach of a Chelsea legend like John Terry," Conte told Sky Sports.

"We are talking about a top man, a really good man and then a top player. He helped me a lot in my first season in and out of the pitch.

"He was very important in the training ground, during the sessions to keep the concentration standards high."

Terry's last game, a 5-1 hammering of Sunderland, saw him substituted after 26 minutes – a nod to his shirt number – to a rousing reception from the home fans.

Conte explained: "He decided he wanted this because 26 was his squad number and for me it was a pleasure to give him this opportunity.

"I will never be able to thank him enough. He was very important for me and our team."

Inter are capable of signing Barcelona captain Lionel Messi thanks to vice-president Javier Zanetti, according to former assistant coach Jose Morais.

Messi has been linked to Inter since ex-president Massimo Moratti said the six-time Ballon d'Or winner joining the Serie A club was not a "forbidden dream".

Barca superstar Messi is contracted to the LaLiga champions until 2021 but his future is far from certain at Camp Nou, where he has clashed with board members this season.

Morais knows Inter better than most, having served as Jose Mourinho's assistant during the Nerazzurri's treble-winning season in 2009-10.

Asked about the possibility of Messi swapping Barca for Inter, Morais – now head coach of K. League champions Jeonbuk Motors – highlighted the influence of the Argentina international's countryman Zanetti.

"You know what, I think it's possible," Morais, who led Jeonbuk to glory last season, told Stats Perform. "You know the reason why? Because they have Zanetti. Zanetti is like a tractor factor for Argentinian players.

"I think he is capable of attracting a player like Messi if he thinks about a different challenge. I think for an Argentinian player, it's almost to have a feeling like I'm going home, I'm going to Inter.

"My feeling is that Inter are welcoming in a special way and for Argentinian players, probably because of the presence of Zanetti. All of the Argentinians joining Inter are extraordinary players, they brought success to the club. I believe Messi can be one of these players."

While the possibility of Messi gracing the blue half of San Siro has excited fans, the prospect of star forward Lautaro Martinez leaving has dominated headlines.

Martinez has been heavily linked with Barca, who are reportedly determined to sign Messi's international compatriot as a long-term replacement for veteran Luis Suarez.

Also linked to Spanish giants Real Madrid and Premier League powerhouse Manchester City, Martinez had scored 16 goals in 31 games across all competitions before the coronavirus pandemic brought sport to a standstill.

Morais said: "I remember players myself, at certain moments of a career there was a player who decided to go to Barcelona because he thought maybe I could win the Champions League. He was a fantastic player like Zlatan Ibrahimovic. He went to Barca. I believe that it can happen with any other player. But I think as a professional if you want to have a career, Inter are definitely a fantastic club to stay and make a career.

"I don't know what's going on in the head of a player, if a club like Madrid or Barca, with the impact they have, if it is possible to buy a player from Inter – it's possible. I don't know the conditions of the contract, but it can make the deal possible or not possible. If we speak about Neymar, he wants to leave from Paris Saint-Germain but the price is just too high for clubs to pay. It is not easy to leave.

"If the coronavirus situation will help the player, it's about the contract. I believe the situation in Spain is not too different from Italy at the moment. I don't think this will be a factor for the player to say I will leave Italy to go to Spain. It will be about the vision of his future and goals he has in his career. I hope for Inter they will keep Lautaro Martinez because he makes a difference. You need these kinds of players to win the league."

Morais enjoyed great success alongside Mourinho at Inter, winning the Serie A, Champions League and Coppa Italia in 2009-10 but the Italian club have struggled to reach those lofty heights since the Portuguese's departure.

However, Inter – with Steven Zhang and Suning Holdings Group in charge – have made progress, luring former Juventus and Chelsea boss Antonio Conte to Milan, while investing heavily in the likes of Romelu Lukaku, Christian Eriksen, Nicolo Barella, Stefano Sensi, Diego Godin and Ashley Young.

Inter made a fast start to 2019-20 but fell away prior to the COVID-19 crisis, sitting third and nine points adrift of defending champions Juve at the time of Serie A's postponement in March.

"I believe in the club, in the people who are working there. In Italy, I'm Interista. As Interista, there is only one way to think – it's to believe that the club can, in any circumstance, be a competitor for the title," the 54-year-old Morais added.

"With the investment this season, it's possible. It's important to have stability, in terms of organisation, to succeed in the next years. Conte is a good coach. He has been winning titles. He did what he did with Juventus and Chelsea, and hopefully for Inter, he will also make them champions. This is my wish because I want the best for Inter in Italy."

Inter head coach Antonio Conte would not last a full season as Real Madrid boss, according to Atletico Madrid's Diego Costa.

Conte and Costa worked together at Premier League giants Chelsea before the latter left Stamford Bridge for Atletico following a row with the Italian coach at the end of 2016-17.

Costa was followed out of Chelsea by Conte 12 months later – the former Juventus coach joining Inter at the start of 2019-20 after a year away from football.

Asked about Conte, striker Costa told ESPN Brasil: "We [Conte and I] had problems off the pitch, but I think he is a really good manager.

"I have no hard feelings towards Conte. But to be a top, top manager, he needs to change the human side of his management. He is very suspicious. At a like, say, Real Madrid, he would never last a season."

Costa was born in Brazil and made two appearances for the Selecao before opting to represent Spain in 2013.

The 31-year-old has since earned 24 caps for Spain, representing La Roja at the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

"After the friendly against Russia, he [former Brazil head coach Luiz Felipe Scolari] said he would call me up again because I hadn't played many minutes," Costa said as he reflected on his decision to switch countries. "I think it was just to get in my head.

"I remember several forwards were injured but Scolari would not select me. I stayed quiet, but wasn't selected for the Confederations Cup. The possibility of Spain emerged and I accepted.

"How could I say no? Suddenly, they started saying Scolari wanted me. Well, he never called me once. How could it be that he wanted me? I then saw it written that I had ruined the dreams of millions of Brazilians.

"Why not say that he didn't look for me? Then it's simple."

Romelu Lukaku was "really close" to joining Juventus last year, but the chance to work with Antonio Conte proved pivotal in his decision to sign for Inter.

The Belgium international ended a mixed two-year spell with Manchester United by joining Inter for a reported €80million (£74m) fee in August 2019.

Lukaku has excelled in his debut campaign in Italy, scoring 23 goals in 35 outings in all competitions.

However, the 26-year-old has revealed he almost joined one of Inter's fiercest rivals.

"I was close, really close [to joining Juve], but my mind was always set on Inter and the manager," Lukaku said in an interview on Ian Wright's YouTube channel.

"As a kid I looked up to Adriano, Ronaldo and [Christian] Vieri. 

"Obviously when Inter came – and the manager Conte wanted me at Chelsea and Juve as well – I wanted to go there and see what it was like, keep my head down and work."

Lukaku has already bettered his goals tally from the whole of his final season at United, where he fell out of favour under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

"One bad year can happen to everybody, and I was done [at United]," Lukaku, who believes he made the right decision in leaving Old Trafford, added. "It was a difficult situation.

"I had to make a decision over going somewhere where I can learn other aspects of my game and work with somebody that wanted me as well.

"Ole wanted me to stay but I told him it was over. I didn't have the energy. All credit to him because he's been a man and he helped me make the move away."

United have steadily improved in Solskjaer's first full campaign in charge following the January signings of Bruno Fernandes and Odion Ighalo, the latter arriving on an initial loan.

"They are going the right way because they are bringing in the right players," Lukaku said. "Ole is doing a good job and the results are good. 

"I wish them nothing but the best. As a club they gave me a platform that I had never seen in my life."

Serie A is on hiatus until at least April 3 amid the coronavirus pandemic, and authorities expect the suspension to continue long after the initially scheduled resumption date.

Only China – where the virus was discovered – has been hit harder by COVID-19 than Italy, where, as of Monday, there have been 24,747 confirmed cases and 1,809 deaths, according to the World Health Organization.

Prior to the disruption, free-scoring Atalanta and title-chasing Lazio had been the stories of the season, with Simone Inzaghi's men pushing defending champions Juventus hard for the Scudetto.

Inter showed signs they were heading back towards their former heights before losing ground in the title race, though the same cannot be said for Milan, who sit seventh.

With the help of Opta, we take a look at the most interesting facts relating to Serie A's top four and the Rossoneri.

JUVENTUS

- Juve have been trailing for 133 minutes in 2019-20, less time than any other team in Serie A this season.

- At home, Juve are unbeaten in their previous 34 league games (W29, D5), more than double the next best streak (Lazio's 15).

- This term, Cristiano Ronaldo equalled the record of 11 consecutive goalscoring appearances in a single Serie A season. He has also already levelled his haul of goals from 2018-19 despite making nine fewer appearances, averaging 0.95 goals per game compared to 0.68 last season.

- Among the players who made their debut in the three-points era, Ronaldo was the fastest to reach 42 goals (52 appearances) – before him the record was 58 games played (Vincenzo Montella, Andriy Shevchenko and Brazil great Ronaldo).

LAZIO

- Lazio are unbeaten in their previous 21 league games (W17 D4), already an all-time Serie A record for the club. Six of the seven previous teams with streaks as long as that in a single season went on to win the Scudetto (the only exception was Roma in 2009-10).

- Lazio have scored at least two goals in 19 games in the 2019-20 Serie A season. Only Liverpool (23), Manchester City (21) and Paris Saint-Germain (21) have done so in more games across Europe's top five leagues this term.

- Ciro Immobile has 27 goals in 26 games in 2019-20. Only Antonio Valentin Angelillo (29) in has managed more after 26 matchdays.

INTER

- Antonio Conte is the first Inter coach to see his team score in each of his first 19 games in all competitions.

- Inter have won nine of their 13 Serie A away games this season (D2 L2): only in the 2006-07 campaign have the Nerazzurri won more (11).

- Romelu Lukaku is one of three players to have scored at least 17 Serie A goals in their first 25 games of a debut season with Inter, emulating Giuseppe Meazza (1929-30) and Stefano Nyers (1948-49).

ATALANTA

- Atalanta's 70 goals in this Serie A campaign already represents their second-best haul in a single season (77 in 2018-19).

- No team has scored as many as 70 goals in the first 25 matches of a single Serie A season since 1959, when Fiorentina netted 79.

- Three Atalanta players are into double-figures in terms of goals in this season: Josip Ilicic, Luis Muriel and Duvan Zapata. Only in 1949-50 and 1951-52 have the club had as many players reach 10 goals.

MILAN

- Since Stefano Pioli joined Milan, they have kept the most clean sheets in Serie A (seven).

- Milan have increased their winning percentage since the turn of the year across Serie A and the Coppa Italia. It was 35 per cent in 2019, rising to 50 per cent in the new year – they also increased their goals per game from 0.9 to 1.7.

- Since his first spell at Milan (which began in August 2010), Zlatan Ibrahimovic has scored 60 goals for the Rossoneri in all competitions, more than any other player with the club in the period.

Inter head coach Antonio Conte made a plea for people to stay home and respect the rules amid the coronavirus emergency in Italy.

Outside of China, Italy has been the hardest hit by the virus – named COVID-19 – with more than 1,400 deaths from at least 21,100 cases.

The global pandemic has forced the postponement of all sport, including Serie A, until April 3 in Italy, where the country is in lockdown with all shops except food stores and pharmacies closing.

"Please stay home and respect the rules," Conte said in a video message posted via Inter's official channels.

"That's the only way to confront this emergency.

"It's difficult and tough moment but if we stick together, we'll get through it. Don't give up!"

Conte is in isolation, along with his Inter team, after coming into contact with Juventus defender Daniele Rugani – who contracted coronavirus.

Rugani was the first Serie A player to test positive for COVID-19, which has spread alarmingly quickly in the country, while Manolo Gabbiadini is among a number of Sampdoria players to contract the virus.

Maurizio Sarri praised Aaron Ramsey's performance in Juventus' 2-0 win over Inter, saying the Wales international's improved fitness has helped him to thrive in the Bianconeri midfield.

Ramsey scored for the second Serie A game running, netting Juve's opener in Sunday's Derby D'Italia after also finding the net against SPAL.

He then teed up Paulo Dybala to score the hosts' second and Sarri said moving Ramsey into a three-man midfield rather than playing him behind the strikers had paid dividends.

"He [Ramsey] maintains that he needs to see more of the pitch in front of him, or he gets a little lost," said the Juve coach.

"He is doing well in this role, although in fairness he's also in much better physical condition now than he was when playing as a trequartista.

“I was about to introduce Dybala a minute before we scored with Ramsey, but I decided to put him on anyway, as I felt that was the moment we could finish the game.

"Inter tried to press us high in the first half and probably used up a lot of energy doing that. The inertia of the game changed after our goal, we had a very strong 20 minutes after that and gained confidence, whereas Inter lost it at the same moment.

"It's very positive that we barely allowed a quality side like Inter a single shot on goal."

After dominating the division in the first half of the season, Inter are in third place, nine points behind leaders Juve, having lost twice to the reigning champions.

Inter boss Antonio Conte called upon his players to grow from the defeat, saying: "We tried to stay in their slipstream, but must learn from defeat and take the lessons of comparison to grow in terms of character, quality and strength.

"It's a loss that must help us to grow and understand how far away we are. It certainly shouldn't make us distraught, as we knew there was a gap and we lost both meetings with them. The results speak clearly, they won two and we got zero points.

"We must grow in terms of character if we want to compete at the highest level. It's also about characteristics, as there are players who are stronger in personality and others less so.

"We all need to do better in that sense and be more determined."

Antonio Conte praised Inter for their approach to Thursday's Europa League second-leg win over Ludogorets in the round of 32 after being made to play the game behind closed doors.

Goals from Cristiano Biraghi and Romelu Lukaku earned Inter a 2-1 victory at an empty San Siro after Cauly opened the scoring for Ludogorets, who trailed 2-0 from the first leg.

Fears over the coronavirus outbreak in Italy meant supporters were not allowed to attend the match and Inter head coach Conte admitted the tie had an eerie feel to it.

"I've also played behind closed doors with Italy against Croatia," he told Sky Sport Italia. "The atmosphere is strange and doesn't make things easy as it's like a training session.

"I have to say that my players took the right approach today, even if we fell behind. We made changes, giving other players some minutes, and now we move on."

Inter's home league clash with Sampdoria last weekend was postponed in wake of the virus spreading, while Sunday's blockbuster trip to Serie A leaders Juventus will also be behind closed doors in Turin.

Conte's Nerazzurri lost their last league match 2-1 to second-placed Lazio and trail Juve by six points with a game in hand to play.

Conte admitted the Derby d'Italia clash, as well as an the upcoming trip to Napoli, will go a long way to determining just how close his side are to seriously challenging for silverware.

"We started this run of games and there is an important match coming up against Juventus," he said.  "Once we reach the end of this period, we'll understand how distant we are from a winning level. 

"I am convinced this will give us more clarity on where we are now, the length of the road ahead of us and the work that still needs to be done."

Inter started with a back three against Ludogorets but reverted to a flat-back four in the second half, with Christian Eriksen and Marcelo Brozovic linking up in central midfield.

"We need to work on the ideas and have had time in training," Conte said. "The postponement of the game with Sampdoria last week gave us time to test out something new, which can be used either at the start of a match or during the 90 minutes.

"When you have two strikers, it's inevitably harder work for the midfielders. For those who play with one centre-forward, two wingers or a trequartista, there are more players ready to help cover defensively. We always need to find the right balance depending on the characteristics of the opponents we are up against."

Juventus' derby d'Italia against Inter will be one of five Serie A matches played behind closed doors this weekend due to ongoing fears over the spread of the coronavirus in Italy.

Milan's home fixture with Genoa, Udinese against Fiorentina, Parma's clash with SPAL and Brescia's trip to Sassuolo will also kick off in front of empty stadiums.

Inter's Europa League last-32 second-leg tie at home to Ludogorets on Thursday also took place without fans in attendance and a Serie A statement on Thursday confirmed their trip to Allianz Stadium would do likewise.

The Nerazzurri's fixture against Sampdoria was postponed last weekend in one of four Serie A abandonments.

Towns in northern Italy have been on lockdown after 229 confirmed cases of coronavirus, with seven people having died.

Speaking prior to the Ludogorets fixture, Inter boss and former Juve coach Antonio Conte told Sky Italia: "I think playing behind closed doors is not beautiful

"Football needs the public and to feel the whole atmosphere around it. It is the most beautiful thing.

"Having said that, we refer to the decisions made for health reasons, but I hope that everything will return to normal as soon as possible."

Inter are six points adrift of leaders Juve with a game in hand. 

Antonio Conte admitted games are not the same without the presence of fans as Inter prepare to host Ludogorets at an empty San Siro on Thursday.

UEFA announced Inter and Ludogorets will meet behind closed doors in the second leg of their Europa League tie due to concerns over the coronavirus outbreak in Italy.

And Inter travel to title rivals Juve just three days later, with six points separating the sides as third visits first in Serie A.

It has not yet been confirmed whether fans will be allowed to attend the Derby d'Italia, but Nerazzurri coach Conte is keen to see supporters allowed inside the Allianz Stadium.

"I think playing behind closed doors is not beautiful," Conte told Sky Sport Italia. "Football needs the public and to feel the whole atmosphere around it. It is the most beautiful thing.

"Having said that, we refer to the decisions made for health reasons, but I hope that everything will return to normal as soon as possible."

The outbreak of the virus, which originated in China, saw Inter's clash with Sampdoria one of four Serie A fixtures to be postponed last Sunday.

But after returning to action against Ludogorets, Conte's side have a crucial stretch with matches against Juve and then Napoli, who hold a 1-0 first-leg lead in the Coppa Italia semi-finals.

"We have a very concentrated schedule," Conte said. "The fact that the match with Samp has been postponed changed the situation a bit.

"But we trained to prepare for this cycle of matches: only at the end will we see what Inter can do."

Inter boss Antonio Conte is not concerned about Lautaro Martinez's head being turned after the striker was lauded by Barcelona star Lionel Messi.

Martinez has been strongly linked with a move to Camp Nou as a long-term replacement for Luis Suarez and was this week hailed as "spectacular" by compatriot Messi.

The 22-year-old reportedly has a €111m release clause in his contract and has also been touted as a possible target for Manchester United, Manchester City and Real Madrid.

Despite the growing interest in Martinez, however, Conte is confident the Argentina international is only focused on helping Inter.

"The boy is fully concentrated," Conte said at a news conference on Saturday. "He is doing well and must continue in this way. 

"He has grown a lot over the last year and is only 22. He is committed and I am happy to have him available."

Inter recovered from back-to-back defeats in the league and cup with a 2-0 win over Ludogorets in the first leg of their Europa League last-32 tie on Thursday.

Conte's men face a quick turnaround for Sunday's visit of Sampdoria in Serie A and the head coach is anticipating a difficult test against the relegation battlers.

"Playing on a Thursday makes things difficult as you only have one day to prepare for the next game," he said. "It is something we will get used to over time.

"Sampdoria are in good shape, despite losing last week. We will have to be very focused to get the three points.

"They have a highly experienced coach in Claudio Ranieri and experienced players like Fabio Quagliarella, who amazes me every year."

Conte will wait until Sunday before making a decision on whether to start Marcelo Brozovic, who has been struggling with a knock but took part in training on Saturday.

Brozovic's return could see Christian Eriksen used in an advanced midfield position behind Martinez and Romelu Lukaku, with Conte happy to try out different formations.

"It depends on the game and the opponent. You can try different things but don't forget you have to field a balanced team," he said. "We will see if this is the right time to do it."

Christian Eriksen is yet to reach peak physical condition after joining Inter from Tottenham, according to head coach Antonio Conte.

Eriksen, who signed for the Serie A club in January, scored his first goal for Inter in Thursday's 2-0 Europa League last-32 win away at Ludogorets.

The Denmark international opened the scoring with a fine strike and also hit the crossbar with a powerful drive before Romelu Lukaku's late penalty put the Nerazzurri in complete control ahead of next week's second leg in Milan.

However, Conte feels there is a lot more to come from Eriksen.

"I'm happy for him, the goal always gives confidence," Conte told Sky Sport Italia after Inter bounced back from successive domestic defeats in Bulgaria.

"Christian just needs to work to find the right physical condition, to find the brilliance of his best moments at Tottenham.

"He can do even more than what he showed us today, but we are very happy because we know what he can give us."

Inter were again without goalkeeper Samir Handanovic, although deputy Daniele Padelli was completely untested as Ludogorets mustered only a single shot.

"It is a situation that we monitor day by day," Conte said of Handanovic, who has a hand injury.

"We have confidence in Daniele Padelli, and when he is ready to resume his place, he will. Until then, we continue with Padelli."

Christian Eriksen can help to raise Inter's collective level once he adapts to the side, according to head coach Antonio Conte.

The Denmark international has featured five times for Inter since completing a reported €20m (£16.9m) move from Tottenham in the January transfer window.

He has been restricted to one start and has yet to score or assist a goal for his new club, but Conte has called for patience before seeing the best of Eriksen in an Inter shirt.

"I see too much anxiety and little serenity," he said at Wednesday's news conference. "There is great serenity on our part. 

"The player wants to make himself available and we are calm.

"Every single player must think about improving himself, without thinking about who is next to him. We need individual growth, which can be put into the collective."

Conte will wait until Thursday before deciding whether to start Eriksen in the first leg of Inter's Europa League last-32 tie with Ludogorets.

Alexis Sanchez is also in line to feature from the start at Ludogorets Arena and Conte expects to see more from the on-loan forward once he gets a run of games under his belt.

"He has come back from a bad injury - he's been out for three months," Conte told reporters. 

"He is recovering well and is ready to start the game. We are talking about a player who hasn't played much in the last two years.

"He has to find the best physical shape and in this way it can help us achieve our goals."

Inter make the trip to Bulgaria on the back of just a second Serie A loss of the campaign last weekend, a 2-1 defeat to Lazio seeing them drop to third in Serie A.

"We were disappointed by the result, but not the performance," Conte said. "Lazio are one of the form sides in Italy right now.

"We put in a good performance and resume with our belief and our desire to improve - that must be our only objective.

"We're in Europe and it's right to give it our best, respect the competition as much as possible."

Antonio Conte said Scudetto challengers Inter gifted two goals to Lazio and were "scared" in the second half of their 2-1 Serie A loss on Sunday.

Inter's half-time lead was erased as Ciro Immobile and Sergej Milinkovic-Savic completed a comeback for Lazio, who leapfrogged the Nerazzurri into second position.

Conte's side started the weekend ahead of defending champions Juventus on goal difference but by the end of their trip to Rome, Inter were three points off the pace in the race for the Scudetto.

After the blockbuster showdown in the Italian capital, Inter head coach Conte told Sky Sport Italia: "I think it was a good performance, it's the result I didn't like and the way we conceded the two goals, as we gifted them to Lazio.

"We were not impeccable, but inevitably in these big games, the details become decisive and the margin of error becomes reduced. It's part of a growth process, there was some naivete and these lads must try to be more relaxed in these situations.

"We were too soft on the two goals. We had other situations this season where we had taken the lead and threw points away, for example also Barcelona and Borussia Dortmund [in the Champions League], games we had in our grasp and ended up losing.

"As I said, this is a growth process and we have to go through it so that we can face every situation the right way. Straight after the restart, it was as if we were scared. That has to improve.

"The lads worked hard and I thank them for that. We are trying to irritate the teams at the top, it was a 'head-to-head' with Lazio and we ought to be proud to have been in this situation in the first place. At the same time, we must improve if we are to continue causing problems up there."

Ashley Young had given Inter the lead on the stroke of half-time – the former Manchester United captain and full-back becoming the first English scorer for the Nerazzurri in Serie A since Paul Ince in 1997.

Young has impressed since arriving from Old Trafford in January and the veteran said: "We've got a lot of games coming up, we've got to dust ourselves off pretty quick and get ready for the next game.

"Of course we're still in it [title race], there are plenty of games, plenty of points up for grabs and I'm sure we'll get back to winning ways."

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