Romelu Lukaku's return to Inter will provide the Nerazzurri with new options as they look to recover the Scudetto next season, according to head coach Simone Inzaghi, who labelled the striker's exit last year a "huge blow".

Lukaku joined Chelsea in a club-record £97.5million deal last August, but has returned to San Siro on loan after managing just eight goals in 26 Premier League appearances for Thomas Tuchel's team.

The Belgium international scored 64 goals in 95 games during his previous two-year spell with Inter, helping them to the Serie A title in 2020-21, and has described his Nerazzurri comeback as "like coming home".

Inzaghi, who coached Lukaku briefly before he left for Stamford Bridge last year, says the striker will give him new tactical possibilities but remains keen to highlight the contributions made by the club's other forwards last term.

"Last year an excellent relationship was established, which did not last long," Inzaghi recalled at a media conference to mark the beginning of Inter's pre-season. 

"Then this year there was the possibility and the club informed me. For me it was a huge blow [to lose Lukaku last year], without forgetting that our attack was the best in Italy last year. 

 

"Romelu is a very strong player, but I won't forget what the other forwards did last season, who were also excellent with the regret of not having won the Scudetto. This year we start again with great desire.

"It's a bit early ... [but] I already have ideas in my head. Romelu gives us many solutions: we can recover high or low, the further forward the ball is recovered the less you have to run to score. 

"We will have more solutions with him, while understanding that the other forwards did very well." 

Lukaku joins a fearsome Inter attack that scored 84 goals despite missing out on the Serie A title to Milan last term, with Lautaro Martinez scoring 21 league goals and Edin Dzeko finding the net 13 times.

And Inzaghi, who oversaw Lazio scoring 89 league goals in 2017-18 in his previous role, hopes to see one of his array of forwards win Italy's golden boot next season.

He added: "I like that my teams score ... One year with Lazio we had the best attack, one year Immobile won the Golden Boot, last year we [Inter] had the best attack. 

"This year we hope that one of Lukaku, Lautaro, [Joaquin] Correa and Dzeko can win the Capocannoniere."

Lukaku is not the only addition to Inter's squad ahead of the new season, with the Nerazzurri also acquiring former Ajax goalkeeper Andre Onana on a free transfer, but Inzaghi says the Cameroon international will have to wait for his chance to displace experienced number one Samir Handanovic.

"In terms of hierarchy, Handanovic will start as the starting goalkeeper," he said. "He deserves it for the season he did last year, which was excellent. 

"Then we all know Onana's value: he is a very young player, the goalkeeper of Inter's future and this year he will already have the opportunities to show it."

Inter get their Serie A campaign underway with a trip to Lecce on August 13, looking to build on last season's Supercoppa Italiana and Coppa Italia successes. 

Simone Inzaghi has signed a contract extension with Inter, tying him to the club until June 2024. 

The 46-year-old took over from Antonio Conte in 2021 and impressed in his first season at the helm of the Nerazzurri, which followed the departures of key duo Romelu Lukaku and Achraf Hakimi.

And Inter confirmed on Tuesday that he had signed a new two-year deal.

Despite missing out on the Scudetto to local rivals Milan, Inzaghi did lead Inter to success in the Supercoppa Italiana and the Coppa Italia – requiring extra time to overcome Juventus on both occasions.

As Inter prepare for a bid to regain the Serie A title, the Nerazzurri have taken the decision to hand Inzaghi fresh terms.

Inter are hoping to build on Inzaghi's new deal by sealing a San Siro return for former talisman Lukaku, just one season after selling him to Chelsea for a reported €115million. 

Lukaku endured a tough first season after returning to Stamford Bridge and will hope to rediscover the form that encouraged Chelsea to make him their record signing if he completes his move back to Italy.

Across his two previous seasons at Inter, Lukaku scored 64 goals and supplied 17 assists – both team highs during that time frame. He also led the way in shots on target (132), chances created (133), aerial duels won (185) and dribbles completed (103).

Inter are also locked in talks to sign Paulo Dybala on a free transfer from Juventus, with chief executive Giuseppe Marotta admitting the Nerazzurri's interest in acquiring both attackers on Monday.

 

Tottenham and Chelsea target Alessandro Bastoni will "100 per cent" be staying at Inter, while Simone Inzaghi has agreed a new contract with the Nerazzurri.

That is the message from football agent Tullio Tinti, who represents Inter duo Bastoni and Inzaghi.

Chelsea are in the market for a new centre-back, with Antonio Rudiger leaving for Real Madrid, Andreas Christensen departing and talk of Cesar Azpilicueta joining Barcelona.

Tottenham are also in the search for another defender as Antonio Conte looks to continue to invest to build a side capable of competing in the Premier League and Champions League.

Bastoni has been a name repeatedly linked with the two clubs, alongside Manchester United, but the Italy international's agent Tinti insists a move will not happen.

"Bastoni is currently on vacation," Tinti told reporters. "He is staying at Inter 100 per cent. We respect our contracts and are happy to discuss an extension when Inter call us."

Inter are said to be close to announcing a new contract for coach Inzaghi, who took over from Conte in 2021 and narrowly finished second in Serie A behind Milan.

Tinti simply responded "yes" when asked if the Inzaghi extension was agreed upon, with confirmation expected in the coming days.

Bastoni staying and the Inzaghi extension will provide a boost to Inter, who are aiming to bolster their attacking ranks with the additions of Paulo Dybala and Romelu Lukaku.

Lukaku only left for Chelsea before the start of the 2021-22 campaign in a Blues' record £97.5million move, but is expected to return on loan to the Serie A side.

During his previous two-year spell, no Nerazzurri player scored more goals (64), provided more assists (17) or created as many chances (133) in all competitions than the Belgium international.

Simone Inzaghi congratulated Milan on their "extraordinary" Scudetto triumph but vowed Inter will come back stronger next season.

Inter beat Sampdoria 3-0 in their final game of the 2021-22 season on Sunday, though it was not enough to stop fierce rivals Milan from claiming a first Serie A crown since 2011.

The Rossoneri had to lose if Inter were to pip them to top spot, but they showed no signs of final day nerves in a comfortable 3-0 win at Sassuolo.

It is only the second time in seven such instances in the three-points-per-win era that Inter have missed out on top spot despite registering 80 points or more.

Their final tally of 84 points were two fewer than Milan managed, with Stefano Pioli's men winning their final five games and going 15 without defeat to conclude the campaign.

While proud of his own side's form in the second half of the season, Inzaghi was quick to praise Milan for seeing out the job.

"Congratulations must go to them because they had an extraordinary season," he told DAZN. "Congratulations to them for managing 86 points.

"Over the last 30 points on offer, we managed three points more than Milan. I am proud of what we have done.

"In February we had a double-header with Liverpool in the Champions League and that had an impact [on our league form].

"Now, in the next few days, we will analyse where we could have claimed the extra victory that would have turned the season from beautiful to extraordinary."

Inzaghi may have fallen just short of retaining the title Inter won last season, but the ex-Lazio head coach won the Coppa Italia and Supercoppa Italiana in his first year in charge.

He is the third manager in Inter's history to win at least 25 matches in his maiden Serie A campaign, after Aldo Olivieri (1950-51) and Jose Mourinho (2008-09).

Reflecting on the campaign as a whole, Inzaghi said: "It has been a challenging journey. But we lifted two trophies and only lost to Liverpool and Real Madrid in Europe.

"Nobody likes being second, but this season will be hard to forget."

Milan and Inter have finished in the top-two spots in successive seasons for the first time ever and will be much fancied to battle it out for the Scudetto again next time around.

After losing a number of key men ahead of this season, Inzaghi is hoping for a positive transfer window to help Inter bounce back in the 2022-23 campaign.

"I'll meet with [chairman Steven] Zhang with a cool head and we'll discuss the future," he said. "We have to do things well because we have fans who deserve to be brought joy.

"[Romelu] Lukaku, [Achraf] Hakimi and [Christian] Eriksen were big losses. We've worked hard to stay competitive and the hope is we can make our squad more competitive."

Simone Inzaghi insists Inter's season will be defined as a success even if they fail to win the Scudetto.

Inzaghi's side head into the final matchday of the Serie A campaign two points behind leaders and fierce rivals Milan, who require just a point at Sassuolo to win the title due to a superior head-to-head record.

Inter host Sampdoria, who have won just one of their last 19 league visits to the Nerazzurri, knowing the Serie A title is out of their hands as they rely on Stefano Pioli's Milan faltering on Sunday.

Regardless of the title outcome, Inzaghi views the season as a success after winning the Coppa Italia and Supercoppa Italiana, while making the Champions League last 16, where they were defeated by Liverpool.

"We have won two cups, expressed ourselves well, returned to the Champions League last 16 and are fighting for the title on the final day of the season," Inzaghi said at Saturday's pre-match news conference.

"The team has had a great year and I am very happy. It would be extraordinary to win the Scudetto as well, but we have given everything and we know we have given satisfaction to our fans."

Inter sit on 81 points heading into the final day, and 80-plus points have been enough for the Nerazzurri to win the title on five of the previous six occasions they have passed that mark.

However, should Milan avoid defeat at Sassuolo, the 2021-22 campaign will follow suit with the 2019-20 term when Inter finished second behind Juventus, despite collecting 82 points.

Inzaghi will be bitterly disappointed should Inter miss out to neighbours Milan, but he does not expect to come under criticism for failing to defend the title that Antonio Conte's Nerazzurri won last season.

"I have an excellent relationship with Antonio, there is mutual respect," he said of Conte. "Comparisons are normal, but I have never given those any weight.

"The club has always been with me from day one. It will have been a satisfactory year for our work anyway.

"The coaches are always under scepticism, we knew how things were and the demands of the club. Along the way we realised that we have gone beyond expectations."

Meanwhile, Ivan Perisic has hinted at a move away when his contract expires at the end of the season.

Asked about a renewal after the Coppa Italia win, Perisic told Mediaset: "I don't know, but with the important players [the club] doesn't wait until the last moment."

But Inzaghi assured there will be discussions with the Croatia international, who he feels is a special player.

"I think he went further; until you train a player you can't realise," Inzaghi said when asked if Perisic has lived up to expectations.

"Perisic has always been special to watch. He has had an extraordinary season – I think he has outdone himself.

"There will be a meeting with the club. I hope there will be progress. He is an important player for Inter. There is a great, open relationship and we will take stock of everything."

Simone Inzaghi said Inter still believe they can retain the Scudetto after Lautaro Martinez's brace helped the Nerazzurri beat Cagliari and take the Serie A title race to the wire.

After watching Milan beat Atalanta 2-0 at San Siro, the Nerazzurri had to win in Sardinia to avoid ceding their domestic crown to their rivals, but Martinez followed up Matteo Darmian's opener with a second-half double as Inter claimed a hard-fought 3-1 win to keep their hopes intact.

Inter have now won seven of their past eight league games, but must beat Sampdoria and hope Sassuolo defeat the Rossoneri on the final day to win their 20th top-flight title.

Inzaghi won one Serie A title during his playing career, scoring when Sven Goran Eriksson's Lazio claimed a dramatic title triumph on the final day of the 1999-00 season, beating Reggina 3-0 to overturn a two-point deficit to Juventus, who lost 1-0 to Perugia. 

The former striker says that success is proof that anything can happen on the final day, and praised his team for putting in a composed performance just days after beating Juventus to win the Coppa Italia.

"There is still one game missing, the team believes in it. We know that it has already happened, it has already happened to me," Inzaghi told his post-match press conference.

"We believe in it until the end, and we will prepare it in the best possible way. Today we had a very good game two days after celebrating a trophy. In front of us we had a Cagliari team that was playing for survival and nothing was taken for granted, but I have a great team. 

"I won a Scudetto against Lazio that I was two points behind [with one game left] and Juve lost to Perugia on the last day. In football you must never give up, we have always shown it."

Inter's win means they have taken 39 points from their 19 away games in Serie A this season, the same amount they earned when winning the title under Antonio Conte last term.

This represents the Nerazzurri's joint-third best away return in a single Serie A season (in the era of three points for a win), after they took 49 points in 2006-07 and 43 in 2019-20.

Speaking to DAZN in the immediate aftermath of the win, Inzaghi had also heaped praise on two-goal hero Martinez after his match-winning performance.

"I think he's got 25 goals this year. He has scored 13 goals in his last 13. The team put him in a position to score, he is a champion, he is very important for us and the team," he said.

"He was good because even in the period in which he was unable to score, he worked hard, and now you can see the results."

Martinez's tally of 25 goals in all competitions this season is at least eight better than any other Nerazzurri player (Edin Dzeko is second with 17), and the Argentine has become just the sixth Inter player to hit 20 goals in a Serie A season before turning 25 years of age, after Giuseppe Meazza, Sandro Mazzola, Antonio Angelillo, Ronaldo and Mauro Icardi. 

While the striker acknowledged Inter had dropped points in games they should have won this season, he too holds out hope of a dramatic final-day triumph next Sunday.

"We have lost points in matches in which we have done well, but in every competition we have played good football and done the work we wanted," the striker told DAZN.

"The points lost are behind us, now there is one last home game with our fans, and we have to finish the championship in the best way."

A Lautaro Martinez brace ensured Inter will take the Serie A title race to the final day of the season as the Nerazzurri secured a tense 3-1 win over Cagliari.

Having seen leaders Milan beat Atalanta 2-0 earlier on Sunday, the Nerazzurri knew only a win in Sardinia would keep their hopes of a second consecutive title alive.

Martinez scored twice to add to Matteo Darmian's opener as Inter went about doing just that, although they had to work for the victory after Charalampos Lykogiannis halved the arrears in the second half.

Simone Inzaghi's men have it all to do on the final day, however, needing to beat Sampdoria and hope Milan lose at Sassuolo to be crowned champions.

Ivan Perisic forced Alessio Cragno into an early save with a fierce strike before Samir Handanovic got down to his right to stop Lykogiannis' goal-bound effort during a lively start.

Inter were denied a 10th-minute opener when Milan Skriniar was adjudged to have bundled home a right-wing free-kick with his arm, but the Nerazzurri hit the front after 25 minutes when Darmian headed Perisic's fine cross into the top-left corner.

Martinez twice went close to doubling Inter's lead at the end of an entertaining first half, striking the post with a sublime left-footed volley before drawing a close-range stop from Cragno. 

The Argentine finally got his goal after 51 minutes, bringing down Nicolo Barella's long ball before firing home, only for Lykogiannis to halve the arrears two minutes later with a deflected long-range effort.

But Martinez was not done there, producing a brilliant lobbed finish from Roberto Gagliardini's pass to clinch his brace, putting Milan's celebrations on ice and deepening the hosts' relegation fears.

What does it mean? Inter take thrilling title race to the final day

Inzaghi's men ensured an absorbing Serie A title race will be decided on the final day of the season with their win, although they are relying on Sassuolo to complete a league double over Milan to give them a chance of glory.

Inter have now won seven of their last eight league games, losing the other, allowing them to keep pace with a Rossoneri side unbeaten in 15 Serie A matches (10 wins, five draws).

Outstanding Martinez passes 20-goal mark

Martinez's second-half brace proved decisive as the Argentina ace hit 21 league goals in what has been a superb individual campaign.

He is now just the sixth player in Inter's history to reach 20 goals in a Serie A season before turning 25, after Giuseppe Meazza, Sandro Mazzola, Antonio Angelillo, Ronaldo, and Mauro Icardi.

Cup hero contributes once more

Having scored an extra-time brace to fire Inter to a Coppa Italia final win over Juventus on Wednesday, Perisic was on top form again as the Nerazzurri kept their double hopes intact.

As well as scoring seven Serie A goals, the Croatian has registered seven league assists after teeing up Darmian's opener, with only Hakan Calhanoglu (11) and Barella (10) recording more for Inter this term.

Key Opta Facts:

- Inter have earned 39 Serie A points on the road this season, as many as in the previous term, which was their third-best performance in a single campaign (49 points in 2006-07 and 43 in 2019-20).
- Cagliari have ended a Serie A campaign with only three home wins for the second time in their history, after the 1999-2000 season.
- Martínez has scored the most goals in Serie A since the start of March (10).

What's next?

Inter host Sampdoria in their final game of the season next Sunday, requiring a win – and a Milan defeat at Sassuolo – to retain their title. Cagliari, meanwhile, need a win over relegated Venezia on the same day to have any chance of survival.

Inter head coach Simone Inzaghi says there is no "special recipe for winning finals" ahead of the Coppa Italia decider against Juventus on Wednesday.

The 46-year-old boss guided Lazio to the Coppa Italia title in 2018-19, along with winning the Supercoppa in 2017 and 2019.

Inzaghi also led the Nerazzurri to the Supercoppa crown earlier this season, prompting hopes his excellent record in cup finals bodes well for Inter.

"We're already very proud to be here for such an important game," Inzaghi told reporters.

"I don't think there are any special recipes for winning finals. You need to run hard, be determined and focused.

"We'll have to give 120 per cent to lift our second trophy of the season."

The Coppa Italia final comes amid Inter's title chase, sitting second two points behind Milan with two games to play.

Inzaghi admitted re-focusing their energy away from the league to the cup would bring a unique challenge.

"That’s something we’ve spoken about," he said. "It probably would've been better to play the final at the end of the Serie A campaign, but the structure was set out at the start of the year.

"I’ve been involved in finals as a player and as a coach, and I don’t think it’s a problem to play just before the end of the league season."

Inzaghi has collected a record points tally in his first season in charge in the league, with the side firmly in contention for the Scudetto, having won the Supercoppa.

But the common view on the success of Inzaghi's first campaign may be determined by their final few games, as they chase both the Serie A and Coppa titles.

"I owe everything to the team, as the players have always backed me," Inzaghi said.

"It's been a brilliant season. It's match number 50 now. We played wonderful football for seven or eight months, but then suffered a dip and dropped some points, but if I think back to how we played against Liverpool and the way we’ve reached the final, I have no bad words to say about the team."

Simone Inzaghi never doubted his Inter side had what it took to fight back from two goals down to beat Empoli 4-2 in Friday's thrilling Serie A contest.

Inter were two goals down at San Siro after Andrea Pinamonti, who is registered to the reigning Italian champions, and Kristjan Asllani found the net inside the first 28 minutes.

That had Empoli well on course for a first away win in 10 away league matches, only for Milan youth product Simone Romagnoli to put into his own net and give Inter a lifeline.

Lautaro Martinez then blasted home a couple of first-time finishes either side of half-time, before substitute Alexis Sanchez made certain of the victory in added time.

The win for Inter – their ninth in a row against Empoli in Serie A – moves them one point above Milan, who can reclaim top spot when they travel to Hellas Verona on Sunday.

And despite his side uncharacteristically gifting the visitors two early goals, Inzaghi was ultimately pleased with the response. 

"We've said in the past few days that we must pay attention to Empoli and defend well. But I always knew that the team would have the right reaction," he told DAZN.

"We created chances and took many shots. [Guglielmo] Vicario was very good in goal."

 

Inter registered 37 shots in total – 10 of those on target – which is the most of any side in a single game in Europe's top five leagues this season.

In front of a packed home crowd, Inzaghi felt his side tried too hard to make a fast start and were made to pay by their opponents.

"An experienced team like ours shouldn't concede goals like that, but the feeling is that we wanted to score immediately in front of this crowd," he said.

"I think we set the record today for the number of shots. In the first 25 minutes or so we were too frenzied to take the lead and Empoli put us under pressure.

"But we showed a great reaction and that has to be congratulated."

Inter will have one eye on Milan's trip to Verona on Sunday, but their immediate focus now switches to Wednesday's Coppa Italia final showdown with Juventus.

And with six wins from their past seven games in all competitions, Inzaghi's side will enter that match at Stadio Olimpico with the wind in their sails.

"We'll take a great injection of confidence for what lies ahead," the Inter head coach added. "This team has been going strong since August, moving forward in all competitions.

"This victory against a very organised opponent will only give us confidence."

Simone Inzaghi is adamant the Serie A title race is far from over after Inter bounced back from defeat to Bologna by beating Udinese on Sunday.

Inter's 2-1 victory came after Milan had secured a late 1-0 win at home to Fiorentina, temporarily putting them five points clear at the summit.

A shock 2-1 loss to Bologna last week saw Inter lose their place at the top of the table, and Milan have a relatively kind run-in.

But Inzaghi is not giving up as Inter look to win back-to-back Scudetti after first-half goals from Ivan Perisic and Lautaro Martínez were sufficient to see off Udinese.

"At 2-0 we conceded [Ignacio] Pussetto's goal, that made us dip slightly, but we stayed in the game and risked almost nothing," he told DAZN.

"I think it's the 50th game since the beginning of the season but we play well, we want to win. There are three games to go plus the final of the Coppa Italia.

"We played seven games in 22 days but the team is healthy and wants to believe until the end."

Udinese offered very little until Pussetto's 72nd-minute goal, but Inter did then come under slightly more pressure in the closing stages.

But Inzaghi felt their ability to see out the win and bounce back from a bitterly disappointing defeat last week was a evidence of Inter's mentality.

"It was a great proof of character against a team that in April was second only to mine [in terms of points], and I want to thank the fans, who followed us in large numbers," said the former Lazio coach.

"It made us feel almost as if we had San Siro behind us to the end."

Inter face Empoli at home next on Friday, while Milan go to Hellas Verona two days later.

Simeone Inzaghi expects the Serie A title race to provide more surprises as Inter look to chase down rivals Milan, although he admits the Nerazzurri camp was in low spirits after a loss to Bologna.

Despite scoring their fastest goal of the Serie A season to take the lead at Bologna when Ivan Perisic found the net after 2 minutes and 53 seconds, Inter fell to a 2-1 defeat after goals from Marko Arnautovic and Nicola Sansone, leaving them two points adrift of the Rossoneri.  

The Nerazzurri had been unbeaten in 11 matches in all competitions prior to the defeat, and it represented their first league loss at bottom-half opponents since January 2021. 

Inter will now require at least one slip-up from Stefano Pioli's team in order to retain the title, and although Inzaghi acknowledges Wednesday's defeat was a deflating result, he believes there are more twists to come.

"The mood was not the best, the disappointment has been strong," Inzaghi said. "In these days, however, I have seen an excellent team spirit, they want to believe until the end. 

"Every match will be tough for everyone, at the end of the season we will do the count. We will try to give satisfaction to the fans after doing it [winning a trophy] with the Super Cup [which Inter lifted in January].

"When you lose games, you always make mistakes. In Bologna we had to be more clinical in the first half, and we didn't succeed. 

"Winning would have given us primacy and instead we have to chase. With my staff we can [only] affect ourselves: every Sunday there are surprises and there are still four games to go.

"In Bologna we didn't have to finish the first half level, we needed more goals given the many opportunities we created. Now, anything can happen."

Inter goalkeeper Samir Handanovic started on the bench at Bologna after struggling with a back injury, and remains a doubt for the clash with Udinese on Sunday.

Ionut Radu started in the place of Handanovic, who has kept 14 clean sheets and recorded a save percentage of 77.39 per cent in Serie A this term, but gifted Bologna's Sansone a last-gasp winner after failing to control a back-pass. 

Although Inzaghi did not rule out a return for Handanovic against Udinese, he reiterated his confidence in Radu.

"He [Handanovic] has an important problem, today he has done a partial customized training and there is some hope. Tomorrow we will see, he will try," Inzaghi added.

"[If not], for sure Radu will play, he has my utmost confidence and I think he will have an important career ahead of him even though he has played very little this year."

Inter chief executive Giuseppe Marotta says coach Simone Inzaghi will "absolutely" remain with the Nerazzurri next season, and could become "one of the best" coaches in the game later in his career.

Inter's hopes of retaining the Serie A title were dealt a blow on Wednesday as they fell to a 2-1 defeat at Bologna, allowing rivals Milan to preserve their two-point advantage at the top of the table.

The Nerazzurri's reverse was their first on the road against bottom-half opponents since January 2021, with Marko Arnautovic and Nicola Sansone overturning the early lead established by Inzaghi's men when Ivan Perisic netted Inter's fastest Serie A goal of the season (two minutes and 53 seconds after kick-off).

However, Marotta remains adamant Inzaghi will remain at the club regardless of the outcome of their Scudetto fight.

"Absolutely yes, we are very happy with Inzaghi," he said at an event at San Siro. "He is doing well and has strong growth margins.

"I believe that when he reaches the age of [Carlo] Ancelotti, [Antonio] Conte, or [Massimiliano] Allegri, he will be one of the best around."

Inter saw an 11-match unbeaten Serie A run come to an end on Wednesday, but Marotta remains optimistic the Nerazzurri can still win a second successive league title.

"As a sportsman, I smile, but it's a bitter smile," he added. "It's part of the game; we lost a battle, but not the war. 

"We have to recompose ourselves as quickly as possible; we're angry, but not depressed. 

"There are four games left, let's see what happens. Today's football is not as predictable as it was in the 1970s or 1980s. Today, even the team that has nothing to say can win."

Inzaghi's men conceded multiple goals in an away Serie A match for the first time since October 2021 (against Lazio) in their loss at Bologna, having kept seven away clean sheets between those two instances.

Inter and Milan are fighting it out at the end of an absorbing title race in which the likes of Napoli and Juventus were involved for long periods, and Marotta said the competitive nature of this Serie A campaign has been good for Italian football. 

"I think there is a general levelling of the teams, there is not yet mathematically a team that is relegated or that knows what its position will be," he said. 

"It is for this reason one of the most interesting leagues in recent years, and this was needed after the domination of Juventus and our success well in advance of [the end of the season] last year. This is good for the movement."

Inter coach Simone Inzaghi backed his side to respond from defeat at Bologna but conceded the Scudetto race is out of the Nerazzurri's hands.

Milan returned to the Serie A summit with victory at Lazio on Sunday and Inter initially made a positive response when Ivan Perisic struck after just two minutes and 53 seconds at the Stadio Renato Dall'Ara on Wednesday. 

That was the Nerazzurri's fastest league strike of the season but Marko Arnautovic equalised against his former club with his 13th league goal this term, his best tally in a single campaign in Europe's top five leagues.

A costly Ionut Radu error was then punished by substitute Nicola Sansone with nine minutes remaining as Inter dropped ground in the Scudetto race, the 2-1 defeat leaving them two points behind Milan with four games left.

Milan also have a superior head-to-head record against their neighbours and Inzaghi acknowledged that the title destination is no longer in his team's control.

"Now it is difficult but I know I have a team of great men who will do everything to end this championship well. Now we are no longer masters of our destiny," he told reporters after the game.

While appreciating the dent to Inter's title hopes after defeat at Bologna, who had previously not beaten Inter at home in 15 Serie A attempts, Inzaghi is refusing to give up hope.

"There are four games left, we have seen that it was a championship of surprises and games played to the end," he added. 

"There are still 12 points up for grabs and anything can happen."

Inzaghi was quick to defend Radu for his mistake when failing to control Perisic's pass that led to Sansone's winner, in what was the goalkeeper's first Serie A appearance of the season due to the injury of first-choice Samir Handanovic.

"There is disappointment as it is normal for there to be after a game lost in this way," he told DAZN. "The mood was not the best, Radu made a mistake like I or a striker and a midfielder can.

"When a goalkeeper makes a mistake, everything is highlighted more. Now we have to react to a burning defeat, facing one game at a time knowing that we are no longer masters of our destiny."

Inter will look to respond in their Scudetto push when they visit Udinese on Sunday.

Nicola Sansone scored a late winner as Inter relinquished their grasp on the Scudetto and failed to return to the Serie A summit after a 2-1 defeat at Bologna on Wednesday.

Milan regained top spot in the league with late victory at Lazio on Sunday and Inter made a good response in their game in hand at Stadio Renato Dall'Ara when Ivan Perisic struck after just three minutes.

Marko Arnautovic restored parity against his former side 25 minutes later, though, and Sansone profited from an Ionut Radu mistake with nine minutes remaining to seal an unlikely victory.

Defeat left Inter two points behind leaders Milan with four games left to play as the neighbours battle for the title.

Perisic blasted Inter into an early lead in expert fashion, nutmegging Musa Barrow before powering a left-footed thunderbolt into the top-right corner.

A stinging drive from Federico Dimarco tested Lukasz Skorupski, before Lautaro Martinez wastefully fired over a presentable rebound to double the lead.

Arnautovic then levelled things up by heading Barrow's left-wing cross into the bottom-right corner, while Denzel Dumfries spurned a headed chance from Perisic's centre at the other end.

Dimarco blazed over after the interval and twice tamely found Skorupski's hands when unmarked from the edge of the area, before the Bologna goalkeeper denied Milan Skriniar's goal-bound header.

Inzaghi sent on forwards Edin Dzeko and Alexis Sanchez in search of a late winner, but it was starting striker Martinez who headed over Hakan Calhanoglu's corner.

Radu then handed Bologna victory as he missed a simple Perisic pass backwards, with Sansone converting a simple tap in to punish the Inter goalkeeper.

What does it mean? Inter falter in Scudetto charge

Reigning champions Inter were unbeaten in 15 previous visits to Bologna in Serie A and dominated once more but were punished for failing to make their dominance pay against Miroslav Tanjga's side.

Indeed, the visitors fired 26 shots to Bologna's five, but the profligate nature of the Nerazzurri came back to haunt Simone Inzaghi's side. Inter will now have to rely on leaders Milan slipping up in their last four games to overturn the two-point deficit.

Awesome Arnautovic

Arnautovic came back to thwart his former side, with his first-half header dragging Bologna back into the contest.

The Austria international has scored 13 goals in Serie A this season, his highest tally in a single campaign across Europe's top five leagues.

Miserable Martinez

Martinez had scored four goals in three games across all competitions, including a Coppa Italia semi-final brace against Milan on Tuesday, but failed to leave his mark at Bologna.

The Argentina international squandered a great first-half opening, one of a game-high six shots he attempted, though the striker only found the target with one of those.

What's next?

Inter will look to respond in their title charge when they visit Udinese on Sunday, while Bologna travel to Roma on the same day.

Inter went back to the top of the Serie A table with a routine 3-1 win against Roma at the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza on Saturday.

Goals from Denzel Dumfries, Marcelo Brozovic and Lautaro Martinez took the Nerazzurri to victory, continuing their excellent record against the team from the Italian capital, despite a late strike from Henrikh Mkhitaryan.

It was not the result or performance that former Inter coach Jose Mourinho will have been looking for, with the defeat coming as a big blow to the Giallorossi's hopes of European qualification.

Simone Inzaghi will have been very pleased with what he saw from his team, who move a point ahead of Milan in the race for the Scudetto having played the same number of games, with their city rivals facing Lazio in Rome on Sunday.

Inter took the lead just before the half-hour mark as some neat play from the home side saw Hakan Calhanoglu play a through ball to Dumfries, who ran onto it like a striker to slide the opener past Rui Patricio.

It was 2-0 just 10 minutes later as Brozovic found himself on the left side of the penalty area, before cutting inside Gianluca Mancini and firing into the far top corner of the net.

The third arrived early in the second half as a neat ball from Nicolo Barella found Martinez, whose shot was parried behind for a corner, but the Argentine headed home the resulting outswinging delivery from Calhanoglu.

There was nearly a calamitous fourth as a cross from the right was helped back to Patricio by Rick Karsdorp, and realising he could not pick the ball up, the Portugal international urgently kicked the ball away before Joaquin Correa could take advantage.

Mkhitaryan fired in a consolation past Samir Handanovic from just inside the box with five minutes remaining but it was too little too late for the visitors.

What does it mean? Nerazzurri look good for title run-in

This was a surprisingly comfortable win for Inter, coming up against a Roma side that had not been beaten in 12 Serie A matches, the longest unbeaten streak for the Giallorossi in a single league campaign since May 2016 (17 under Luciano Spalletti).

However, the ease with which they took a two-goal lead allowed them to manage the game from there, and in truth the visitors gave them very few problems.

Inter remain unbeaten in their last 10 Serie A matches against Roma (W4 D6). The last side to reach 10 straight matches without defeat against them in the competition was Milan between 1988 and 1996 (17).

Title credentials on show again

When Inter were beaten 2-0 at home by Liverpool in the Champions League and then again by Sassuolo in the league in late February, things looked bleak for Inzaghi's side.

However, they have gone unbeaten in 11 games in all competitions since then, and have won their last five, sealing a place in the Coppa Italia final and top spot in Serie A, for now.

Inter a special problem for Mourinho

Returning to one of his former clubs where he enjoyed so much success was meant to be a pleasure for the self-proclaimed "special one", but it was yet another day of misery for him.

Mourinho took charge of Inter for 76 Serie A games between 2008 and 2010, averaging 2.2 points per game. After this defeat, the Nerazzurri are the only team against which the Portuguese has lost 100 per cent of his matches against (among sides he has faced more than once in the competition).

What’s next?

Inter travel to Bologna on Wednesday for more Serie A action, while Roma head to England to face Leicester City in their Europa Conference League semi-final first leg on Thursday.

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