Inter completed the semi-final line-up of the Coppa Italia as Nicolo Barella's stunning strike secured a 2-1 victory over Fiorentina at San Siro.

Coming into Wednesday's encounter on the back of three successive 1-1 draws in Serie A, Inter looked to be heading for the same result after Martin Caceres cancelled out Antonio Candreva's 44th-minute opener.

Yet within seconds of Christian Eriksen entering the fray for his Inter bow, the home side retook the lead thanks to a sublime half-volley from Barella.

Napoli now await Inter in the last four next month, with Juventus and Milan meeting in the other semi-final.

Pol Lirola and Alexis Sanchez exchanged efforts early on - Fiorentina's wing-back drilling wide before the Inter forward directed a close-range header at Pietro Terracciano.

A tepid first half looked set to end scoreless, but despite creating very little since the opening minutes, Inter had the lead when Candreva slotted into an empty net after Lautaro Martinez had bundled the ball into his path.

Martinez could have turned from provider to scorer moments after the restart but sent a powerful effort into the side netting.

Sanchez was just inches away from putting the hosts 2-0 up when his low strike crept wide, while Martinez sent a half-volley just over.

But just after Terracciano denied Matias Vecino a goal against his former club, Inter were made to pay for their profligacy on the hour as Caceres outmuscled Martinez to head home.

Samir Handanovic pulled off a brilliant save from Dusan Vlahovic to keep the scores level, and Antonio Conte quickly responded by bringing on Eriksen for his debut.

And though he Eriksen was not involved, Inter led less than a minute after his introduction, Barella arrowing a wonderful half-volley into the bottom-left corner.

Martinez later had a goal - teed up by Eriksen - ruled out for offside, but the Nerazzurri sealed progression.

 

What does it mean? Inter ease Serie A frustration with cup run

It has been a frustrating start to 2020 in the league for Inter, with their draws allowing Juve to establish a three-point lead at the top.

But they are well in the hunt for silverware now in a competition they have not won since 2010-11, which is also the last time the Nerazzurri reached the final.

Barella sets the bar for new boy Eriksen

Eriksen had been on the pitch for just 42 seconds when his fellow midfielder restored Inter's advantage, Barella showing his worth to Conte's side with a brilliant all-round display capped off with a fantastic goal.

Playmaker Eriksen will surely be starting soon enough, but on this evidence, it will certainly not be at Barella's expense.

Sanchez the man at risk?

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has surprisingly claimed Sanchez does have a future at Manchester United, but it seems the Chilean's first priority must be to ensure he is in Inter's starting XI.

He drifted in and out of Wednesday's clash and, with Eriksen chomping at the bit, could be the player to make way.

What's next?

Both sides return to Serie A action on Sunday, with Inter travelling to Udinese as Fiorentina face league leaders Juventus.

Antonio Conte admitted Inter face a midfield "emergency" as he dismissed transfer talk as making it look like the club were "buying half of Real Madrid".

Conte is considering giving new recruits Ashley Young and Victor Moses immediate debuts against Cagliari on Sunday, with Chelsea striker Olivier Giroud and Tottenham midfielder Christian Eriksen also thought to be targets.

With Marcelo Brozovic suffering an ankle injury in last weekend's draw at Lecce, Antonio Candreva suspended and Valentin Lazaro loaned to Newcastle, Inter lack engine-room options for the San Siro clash.

The 1-1 outcome against Lecce has left Inter four points behind Serie A leaders Juventus.

Asked whether the confirmed new arrivals could figure, after Young signed from Manchester United and Moses was prised from Chelsea on loan, Conte stressed he would do whatever it takes to ensure Inter are competitive in midfield.

Young and Moses can both play as attacking full-backs or in wide midfield roles.

"Tomorrow we are in emergency," Conte said in a Saturday news conference.

"We have only three midfielders. Candreva is suspended and Lazaro has left, meaning we will also need to make hasty decisions.

"However, as for the title we need to focus on ourselves. This is what we have to do at all times. We cannot worry about the other teams. Let us focus on ourselves and our job. I want us to keep improving. Let us keep up this enthusiasm."

Eriksen was left out of Tottenham's team on Saturday for the FA Cup game against Southampton, indicating he may have played his last game for former Inter boss Jose Mourinho.

Yet Conte has become bemused by media coverage of Inter's pursuit of new players, telling reporters: "You make it seem that we're buying half of Real Madrid."

Conte outlined Inter's transfer policy and said supporters should not expect Young and Moses to instantly become game-changers with the Nerazzurri.

"If we get cash then we will invest I think," Conte said. "But I don't think that is a surprise or anything strange. We want to strengthen this squad.

"[Chief executive Giuseppe] Marotta has been very clear on this matter. If we bring in two players, for instance, two will leave. But let us keep our feet on the ground.

"We cannot put too much expectation on the new arrivals. Young and Moses did not play much at their previous clubs so they need time to settle. Let us be patient and give them time."

Criticism of Inter's performance in the draw at Lecce rankles with Conte, who says his team cannot always play at their peak.

"Listen, it is simple," he said. "We need to go at full pelt in every game.

"I know that is not always possible. During a season there are lots of games, so you cannot always give 110 per cent. It is normal to have an off day every now and then. That is football and it happens."

Inter have announced the signing of Victor Moses from Chelsea on a loan deal with an option to buy.

The 29-year-old moves to Serie A for the remainder of the campaign after spending the first half of this season with Fenerbahce in the Turkish Super Lig.

Moses was a key player under Antonio Conte when Chelsea last won the Premier League title in 2016-17 and will reunite with his old boss at San Siro.

Inter did not confirm the details of the purchase option, but it has been reported they will need to pay €10million to sign the Nigeria international.

Antonio Conte felt Inter were sluggish in a 1-1 draw at Lecce and warned the Nerazzurri cannot afford to dip below 200 kilometres per hour in their intensity.

Inter had the opportunity to return to the top of Serie A, at least until Juventus played later on Sunday, but toiled to a second successive league draw.

Substitute Alessandro Bastoni scored his first Nerazzurri goal to seemingly set the away side on course for a scrappy win 19 minutes from time, only for Marco Mancosu to hit back.

Conte was disappointed with the lack of vigour in his side's display, claiming they are merely "a normal team" when playing at that level.

"The draw stems from the fact that we must always go at 200 [km] an hour," he said.

"When someone is below that, we cannot afford it. Then the level of the team drops and it can happen that you draw a game that you should have taken three points from.

"We are not a team that manages to bring home the victory going at an average speed. We must always go to the maximum - we have done so in all the matches of the first half of the season.

"When we can't get to the maximum, we are a normal team."

Conte was called out by Jose Mourinho earlier in the week amid the perception he had openly discussed Inter's interest in Tottenham midfielder Christian Eriksen.

Inter chief Giuseppe Marotta spoke about Eriksen on Sunday, but Conte was not willing to follow suit.

"This month is difficult to manage. I think I have been very clear - even if sometimes the things I say are then exploited," he said. "I don't want to talk about the market.

"That is for the club - I am the coach and I have to try to bring out the best in my players."

Tottenham head coach Jose Mourinho hit out at Antonio Conte for speaking publicly about Inter's pursuit of Christian Eriksen.

Eriksen, 27, is out of contract at Tottenham at the end of the season and has been heavily linked with a move to the Serie A side.

Mourinho reignited his feud with Conte as speculation continues over Eriksen, criticising the Inter boss for discussing the midfielder publicly.

Conte is reported to have said: "Eriksen? We have to go to people who have already had a career, who are at the end of their contracts."

"I think Antonio, I think Antonio. I think it was publicly. He is very positive that Eriksen is coming to Inter," Mourinho told UK newspapers when asked who from Inter had been quoted about the Dane, via The Guardian.

"We shouldn't speak about players from other clubs until they become our players. You ask me about Gedson [Fernandes] since the moment Gedson's name was on the screen and I told you nothing.

"You protect everybody. Is it a question of respect? I don't want to give you a headline. That's up to you.

"If Inter are confident, they are confident because they are ready to make us an offer, which didn't happen yet. So when I see people speaking, especially people with responsibilities, I am a little bit surprised."

Mourinho coached Inter from 2008 to 2010, leading the club to two Serie A titles and a Champions League crown.

But the Portuguese tactician said no transfer move would impact his relationship with the club.

"This is not my Inter. I have no connections with the people [running the club] so I think it's nothing to do with that," Mourinho said.

"Nothing can change my feeling with Inter. It's not a situation with a player that is going to change my feeling with the club and the fans. No chance."

Lautaro Martinez is "very happy" at Inter despite his form this season prompting reported interest from across Europe.

Argentina striker Martinez scored his 15th goal of the campaign during Inter's 1-1 draw against Atalanta at the weekend.

The 22-year-old's partnership in attack with Romelu Lukaku has established the Nerazzurri as serious title challengers to Juventus in Serie A.

His performances have also apparently caught the attention of Barcelona, who are facing up to four months without Luis Suarez, while it has also been claimed Manchester City view Martinez as a suitable long-term heir to their all-time record goalscorer Sergio Aguero.

"I'm very happy here at Inter, people love me and I love them," Martinez told TyC Sports.

"If you talk about me [as a transfer target] it is because I do my job well. I must continue on this path.

"I am very calm, I live day to day and I am happy and comfortable here."

Conte took charge of Inter before the start of this season and Martinez credits the former Juve and Chelsea boss as a driving force behind his rapid progress.

“Many things have changed since he came in," Martinez said. "He has a special way of doing things and has taught us so much from his first day in charge.

"He has convinced us to all give our best and the results are there for all to see.

“I have had to adapt to a new culture in another country and learn another language. I played little under the previous manager, but under Conte I have grown a lot and I am enjoying how things are going."

Conte secured the capture of Lukaku from Manchester United, a player he tried to sign at Chelsea, and Martinez has been a huge beneficiary of the head coach getting his man.

"Lukaku helps me a lot, he is a player who – on and off the field – is very important to me," Martinez said of the Belgium international, who has 18 goals in all competitions this term.

"He is a very good person who helps me out. I am very happy to have met him.”

Antonio Conte admits the coffers are empty at Inter and dealings in the current transfer window will need to be negotiated "with intelligence and wit".

Inter sit second in the Serie A table, with themselves, Juventus and Lazio in a three-way fight for the Scudetto.

This month presents a chance to strengthen as the Nerazzurri chase their first league title since 2010, but Inter chief executive Giuseppe Marotta has made it clear to Conte he will have to play the market smartly.

"There is no money," Conte said. "Therefore we will have to do well to find good-value situations."

Inter are firmly in the market for Tottenham's Danish midfielder Christian Eriksen and they reportedly want striker Olivier Giroud to join them from Chelsea.

A deal for Manchester United's Ashley Young looked likely at one stage, but Inter's interest is said to be waning.

Any major arrivals will mean departures are necessary, and the possible sale of Gabriel Barbosa to Flamengo, after his successful loan to the Brazilian club, would see a welcome influx of spending money for Conte.

Inter spent heavily in the last close season, particularly with the big-money arrival of Romelu Lukaku, which could eventually cost the Nerazzurri €80million.

Conte has told Inter what he would like to achieve in the window, with it now a question of what can be agreed.

"I gave some ideas," said Conte, quoted in Gazzetta dello Sport.

"You have to achieve the goals with intelligence and wit. We're going to have to give careful consideration also to the situation with departures."

Romelu Lukaku said leaving Manchester United for Inter was his best option after the star forward continued his red-hot form with a brace in the Coppa Italia.

Lukaku scored twice in Tuesday's 4-1 victory over Cagliari to take his season tally to 18 goals across all competitions for Inter since his club-record arrival at the start of the campaign.

The Belgium international opened the scoring after just 21 seconds, while he also headed in Inter's third in the second half at San Siro, where the Nerazzurri advanced to the quarter-finals.

"I must thank my team-mates, the coach, the backroom staff and the fans. Everyone has helped me from day one," Lukaku, who has scored six goals in his last four games, told Rai.

"Inter were my best option. I can grow here and I can give my contribution. My role is to help the team in any way and I know that the fans like this. I must keep this up.

"Obviously, scoring is the objective, however, I'm not just thinking about myself, but also the team. I'm here to achieve this and I hope to win something. However, for now, I'm only focused on Lecce."

Inter head coach Antonio Conte, who wanted to sign Lukaku during his time at Chelsea before finally getting his man this season, said: "You know that I don't like to talk too much about individuals. Romelu is proving his worth and he can still keep improving."

On the team following Saturday's 1-1 draw with Atalanta, which saw Inter drop two points behind Serie A champions Juventus in the race for the Scudetto, Conte added: "I'm really pleased, it was a great response from the lads. Even from those who've played less of late and those who were coming back from injury.

"I'm happy for [Nicolo] Barella, who is recovering after his injury and he was one of our starters today, as was [Alexis] Sanchez. He is an important player for us and slowly he'll get back to his best. I'm also pleased for Borja Valero, who proved himself once again today, as well as [Valentino] Lazaro, [Federico] Dimarco and [Andrea] Ranocchia, who haven't had many chances so far but all played really well. 

"There's real harmony among this group, they are a great bunch of lads that want to do well. I'm really pleased to be working with them. We rounded off an important first half of the season in the league, picking up 46 points despite our difficulties and they have now left us in a strong position.

"The second half of the campaign won't be easy but we've started on our journey and we want to keep growing, maintaining the right amount of patience to bring everything together."

Antonio Conte was in no mood to discuss Inter's prospective move for Barcelona midfielder Arturo Vidal after his side's laboured 1-1 draw at home to Atalanta in Serie A.

Lautaro Martinez gave the Nerazzurri an early lead at San Siro but visiting Atalanta were in the ascendancy for much of the contest from that point on Saturday.

Robin Gosens netted a deserved equaliser 15 minutes from time and only Samir Handanovic's superb save from Luis Muriel's late penalty averted Inter's second league defeat of the campaign.

Inter will fall two points behind Juventus at the summit if the Italian champions win at Roma on Sunday and head coach Conte was keen to focus on the absence of key personnel after the match.

"I am not talking about players who are not part of the Inter squad," Conte told DAZN when reported transfer target Vidal was raised.

"I faced this game without four key players. Atalanta are intense, with a lot of physical force.

"We did everything we could to try and win the game. The lads are exceptional.

"Today we had Nicolo Barella suspended, Matias Vecino with a calf problem. I'm trying to get Alexis Sanchez back in shape  but in my view we are giving everything in a very difficult situation."

Stefano Sensi eased Conte's concerns in that sense, completing 71 minutes in midfield on his first start since suffering an abductor tear in October.

"I am happy because he did 70 minutes in a very intense game, he will slowly come back up to speed," Conte added.

"We continue to work, the ranking [in the table] must not deceive us."

Samir Handanovic's late penalty save rescued a point for Inter as the Serie A leaders laboured to a 1-1 draw against Atalanta at San Siro.

Lautaro Martinez combined wonderfully with strike partner Romelu Lukaku to score his 15th goal of the season in the fourth minute but Antonio Conte's side were then largely outplayed by a typically ambitious Atalanta.

Martinez was fortunate not to concede a spot-kick when he impeded Rafael Toloi towards the end of the first half, while substitute Ruslan Malinovskiy rattled the upright after the restart.

Robin Gosens poached a deserved equaliser 15 minutes from time and only Handanovic's heroics from Luis Muriel's 88th-minute effort from the spot denied Atalanta the victory.

Champions Juventus will go two points ahead of Inter at the summit if they win at Roma on Sunday.

The Nerazzurri's lethal front two made their presence felt early when Martinez took Lukaku's return pass away from Toloi and blasted under Atalanta goalkeeper Pierluigi Gollini.

In keeping with their vibrant attacking style, Atalanta sought a swift response – Mario Pasalic curling wide from the edge of the area before Duvan Zapata was unable to get enough power on his header to trouble Handanovic.

More textbook forward play from Lukaku and Martinez in the 22nd minute ended with Jose Luis Palomino heading the Argentina striker's chipped attempt off the line.

Martinez almost blotted a fine half when he grabbed at Toloi's ankle as the defender followed up a 41st-minute header saved by Handanovic, although referee Gianluca Rocchi inexplicably decided not to review the incident.

Atalanta boss Gian Piero Gasperini introduced Malinovskiy for Zapata in the 53rd minute and the Ukraine international almost had an instant impact, curling a sweetly struck left-footed effort from Alejandro Gomez's pass against the post from the edge of the area.

Waves of Atalanta attacks continued and they had their reward 15 minutes from time when Josip Ilicic's right-wing cross fell to Gosens for a smart back-post finish.

Alessandro Bastoni clumsily bundled into Malinovskiy during the dying minutes but fellow substitute Muriel fluffed his lines from 12 yards.

One story is dominating the sporting agenda in Spain on Saturday: Xavi's potential return to Barcelona.

The Catalan giants have reportedly earmarked the club great to take over from the under-pressure Ernesto Valverde at the end of the season, and held informal discussions with him on Friday in Doha.

Xavi, 39, is currently coach at Al Sadd but would likely relish a return to Camp Nou, where he won eight LaLiga titles and four Champions League trophies during a glittering playing career.

A strong affinity with a club is not a guarantee of success, however, and we have taken a look at eight other examples of players returning to manage teams they starred for.

 

HITS

Pep Guardiola

After leaving Barcelona as a player in 2001, Guardiola returned as the Barca B boss in 2007 before being promoted to head coach of the first team a year later. Over four years in charge at Camp Nou he led the Blaugrana to 14 trophies, including three LaLiga titles and two Champions League crowns. Success has continued to come Guardiola's way with Bayern Munich and Manchester City.

Zinedine Zidane

World Cup winner Zidane was part of Real Madrid's 'Galacticos' in the early 2000s and he finished his playing career at the Santiago Bernabeu. Like Guardiola, he returned to oversee the second team before stepping up to the top job after the departure of Rafael Benitez in January 2016. Zidane went on to win an unprecedented three successive Champions League titles with Madrid before stepping away in May 2018, only to return 10 months later.

Antonio Conte

In 13 seasons as a player for Juventus, Conte won almost everything there is to win – five league titles, the Coppa Italia, the Champions League and the UEFA Cup. He moved into management two years after retiring and worked his way back to Juve after spells with Arezzo, Bari, Atalanta and Siena. Juve won three straight Scudetti under Conte – the start of their ongoing dominance – before he accepted the Italy job. He is now back in Serie A and thriving with the Old Lady's bitter rivals Inter.

Roberto Di Matteo

Like Lampard, Di Matteo accepted the top job at Chelsea in 2012, having previously been assistant to Andre Villas-Boas. Di Matteo – who won the FA Cup twice with the Blues as a player – went on to lift two trophies as Chelsea boss, including their first Champions League title with a penalty shoot-out win over Bayern Munich, but he was discarded early in the following season.

MISSES

Alan Shearer

Record Premier League goalscorer, Newcastle United legend and lethal England striker – Shearer's playing career was full of success. When he retired in 2006, Shearer moved into television as a pundit, but when the Magpies came calling in 2009 he stepped in to try and save them from relegation. Sadly for Shearer he was unsuccessful, his eight-game reign ending in Newcastle slipping out of the top flight after a 1-0 defeat to Aston Villa on the final day.

Filippo Inzaghi

Employing former players as head coaches had previously worked well for AC Milan – Fabio Capello and Carlo Ancelotti proving particularly successful. When the Rossoneri turned to Inzaghi in 2014 after Clarence Seedorf's brief tenure, the move was therefore no surprise. However, the former striker – who won eight major trophies at the club in his playing days – flopped, winning 14 of his 40 matches in charge as Milan finished 10th, their worst league finish in 17 years.

Thierry Henry

Henry made his name at Monaco after breaking into the first team in 1994, the forward going on to become a world champion and a Premier League icon with Arsenal. After a period as youth coach with the Gunners, Henry was named as Belgium boss Roberto Martinez's assistant. Permanent roles with Bordeaux and Aston Villa were mooted, but in October 2018 Henry chose Monaco. He lasted just three months, losing 11 of his 20 matches in charge across all competitions before being replaced by Leonardo Jardim, the man he had succeeded.

Juan Jose Lopez

One of the most decorated players in River Plate history, having won seven league titles in an 11-year spell, Lopez was a popular appointment after making a strong impact in his second period as caretaker manager in 2010. However, he subsequently presided over a poor 2011 Clausura campaign, forcing River into a play-off against Belgrano, who won 3-1 on aggregate. It was the first time River dropped out of the top tier, sparking riots which left many people injured.

Inter coach Antonio Conte has welcomed Zlatan Ibrahimovic back to Serie A following his move to rivals Milan and recounted attempting to take him to Chelsea.

Ibrahimovic, 38, became a free agent after his contract with LA Galaxy expired at the end of the 2019 MLS season and a return to Italy always looked his most likely next step.

Napoli and Bologna were both linked with the Swede, but he ultimately opted for Milan, whom he previously spent two years with – the first on loan from Barcelona – until 2012.

Ibrahimovic made his second comeback from the bench in Monday's clash with Sampdoria but was unable to inspire Stefano Pioli's men to victory, as they were held to a goalless draw at San Siro.

Conte expects the former Manchester United, Barca, Inter and Paris Saint-Germain striker to make a big impact at Milan, however, and lauded the personality of the man he tried to lure to Stamford Bridge.

“First of all, I want to say welcome back Ibra," Conte told reporters ahead of Saturday's Serie A clash with Atalanta.

"He is a great champion. I tried to get him when I was at Chelsea. I have a lot of respect for him, he has lots of personality after having a tough upbringing - he is a great player.

"I think he can give Milan a lot. His personality will help Milan, he will help the others grow. I think it is important for coaches to have players who lead the way, players who know what you want and lead the team.

"I think this is vital for a coach to have in a team. When a coach has those players then things are a lot easier."

Inter have been strongly linked with several players in the transfer window after such an impressive first half of the season.

Christian Eriksen, Arturo Vidal and Ashley Young are all said to be key targets, though Conte was not forthcoming regarding potential new arrivals.

"I have said in the past that I will not talk about it," he said. "It is pointless asking me these questions.

"I don't want to be rude, but I will not talk about the transfer market. That is something for the club, not me.

"The January transfer window is always a bit peculiar. One must also be smart and understand that there can be many voices [publications].

"The right weight must be given, but for us coaches it is a difficult month to handle certain situations.

"Sometimes untrue news comes out and you find yourself having to prepare a game while untrue rumours come out, but football is also this, you have to face this and be smart."

Antonio Conte hit back at critics of Inter and star forward Romelu Lukaku after his high-flying side stayed level on points with Juventus atop Serie A.

Lukaku scored twice as Inter defeated Napoli 3-1 away from home on Monday, following Juve's 4-0 rout of Cagliari earlier in the day.

After celebrating his 100th Serie A victory as a coach, Conte responded to comments about Inter's counter-attacking strength.

"I don't think Inter defended and went on the counter, as we tried to press Napoli right on the edge of their own area for the whole game," Conte told Sky Sport Italia.

"I hear people always saying we play counter-attacking football, but this is a side that knows what it has to do every time it is in possession.

"We play knowing full well everything we have to do at any moment of the match. Fortunately, our opponents respect us more than the media seem to. People say we win away because we defend deep and go on the counter, but that is certainly not our approach."

Inter's record signing Lukaku took his Serie A tally to 14 goals this season thanks to his brace at the San Paolo, where Lautaro Martinez was also on target.

Lukaku has starred since arriving from Manchester United, where he only managed 12 Premier League goals in 32 appearances last season.

"I heard people say Lukaku was a donkey. I heard all sorts not even that long ago! It's easy to speak highly of Lukaku now, but if we look back to a few weeks ago…" Conte said.

"I always said Romelu was a rough diamond that needed work to smooth him out. Lautaro Martinez is the same. These lads are 26 and 22 years old, they are still young.

"I wanted Romelu very strongly when I was at Chelsea, even back at Juventus. I wanted him, now I can get to work on polishing the diamond."

Antonio Conte registered his 100th win as a coach in Serie A by leading Inter to a 3-1 victory over Napoli on Monday.

Inter boss Conte reached the milestone thanks to Romelu Lukaku's first-half double and Lautaro Martinez's goal after the break at the San Paolo, where the Nerazzurri claimed their first league triumph since October 1997.

The former Italy boss became the fastest manager to reach triple figures for wins among those who made their Serie A coaching debut from 1994-95 onwards.

Conte's first win in the division was a 3-1 success at Udinese during a stint in charge of Atalanta in the 2009-10 season.

After a spell in the second tier with Siena, Conte took charge of Juventus in 2011 and led them to three successive Scudetti.

Inter's victory over Napoli was their 14th of the season and saw them regain their place at the top of Serie A at the expense of Juve, who beat Cagliari 4-0 earlier in the day.

Romelu Lukaku scored a double as Inter comfortably beat Napoli 3-1 for their first Serie A win at the San Paolo in just over 22 years.

Inter were on Monday briefly replaced at the top of the league by Juventus, who downed Cagliari 4-0, but regained their spot at the summit with an impressive triumph.

Lukaku struck twice in the first half, the second coming thanks to a blunder from Napoli goalkeeper Alex Meret, before Arkadiusz Milik halved the deficit in the 39th minute.

Lautaro Martinez made sure of the result in the second half, with the victory Antonio Conte's 100th as a coach in Serie A.

Giovanni Di Lorenzo was punished for an unfortunate slip in the 14th minute, as Lukaku latched onto the loose ball and raced forward to fire in off the left post.

Meret did well to deny Matias Vecino and Martinez but he undid his good work in the 33rd minute when he diverted Lukaku's powerful drive from 18 yards between his own legs and in.

Napoli stayed positive and, after Samir Handanovic just about kept out Lorenzo Insigne, Jose Callejon squared Piotr Zielinski's diagonal delivery into the six-yard box for Milik to tap home before the break.

The tempo dropped off in the second half but Inter again made Napoli pay for an error. Kostas Manolas was unable to clear Vecino's right-wing delivery and instead teed up Martinez to stab home with 62 minutes played.

Tempers flared when Fabian Ruiz forcefully kicked the ball into the Inter dugout, with Sebastiano Esposito and Antonio Conte going into the book for their reactions.

Insigne clipped the crossbar with a 20-yard free-kick as Napoli proved unable to spark a comeback.

Martinez almost doubled his tally in stoppage time but, after rounding Meret, was dispossessed by Di Lorenzo, who looked fortunate not to concede a penalty for his challenge.

 

What does it mean? Conte brings up his ton

Conte's first win as a Serie A coach came in October 2009 while in charge of Atalanta and he reached 100 victories in 145 matches. That is the quickest of any boss to have made their debut in the division from 1994-95 onwards. He will hope to keep up the impressive pace and lead Inter to their first Scudetto since 2010.

Lukaku looking sharp

Lukaku has been prolific away from home this season and now has 10 goals in his nine appearances on the road. He was a threat from the off and thoroughly deserved his brace.

A demerit for Napoli's keeper

After making decent saves from Vecino and Martinez, Meret committed a howler when he let Lukaku's stinging shot squirm through him to hand Inter a 2-0 lead.

What's next?

Inter will be without Milan Skriniar after he was shown a fifth yellow card of the season when they entertain Atalanta at San Siro on Saturday, while Napoli head to Lazio the same day.

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