Martinez joins Serie A’s 100 club as Inter stay nine clear

Inter Milan’s Argentine forward #10 Lautaro Martinez in action during the Italian Serie A football match between Lecce and Inter Milan at the Ettore Giardiniero stadium in Lecce, on February 25, 2024. AFP

Lautaro Martinez scored his 100th Serie A goal on Sunday as he netted twice in Inter Milan’s 4-0 thumping of Lecce which kept their league lead over Juventus at nine points.

Argentina striker Martinez joined the 100 club in Italy’s top flight when he opened the scoring in the 15th minute in southern Italy.

And 10 minutes after the break he slammed in the third for an Inter team which was almost unrecognisable from the one which beat Atletico Madrid on Tuesday but still capable of steamrollering their opposition.

“We’re consistent, we play really good football… I’m really happy because we’re doing great work and we need to keep going because it’s not finished yet,” said Martinez to DAZN.

“When I left home at 15 years old I never imagined that I would experience all this. It’s down to hard work and the sacrifices my family made when I was a kid.”

Davide Frattesi netted two minutes before Martinez’s second and Stefan De Vrij rounded off the scoring against 14th-placed Lecce with a header from a 67th-minute corner.

Inter coach Simone Inzaghi made seven changes from his team’s 1-0 Champions League win over Atletico but captain Martinez started and did the damage for Inter, as so often he does.

The 26-year-old has scored 22 goals in 23 league appearances in a sensational season for both him and his team as the Scudetto is starting to look like an inevitability.

Inter have won all 10 of their matches since the turn of the year and have kept 22 clean sheets this season.

They could be 12 points clear before next weekend’s fixtures as they have their game in hand on Wednesday night, against Atalanta who held AC Milan to a 1-1 draw.

That fixture will be anything but a walk in the park as Atalanta have won five of their last six in Serie A but Inzaghi will have a clutch of rested starters fresh and ready to strike another blow in a one-horse title race.

– Leao ends drought –

Rafael Leao hadn’t netted a league goal since his winner against Verona in late September and he ended his drought in stunning style on Sunday by rifling home the opener from a tight angle after nifty footwork.

The 24-year-old has scored three times and set up two more in his last six games in all competitions but Sunday was another slip for third-placed Milan after last weekend’s chaotic defeat at Monza.

Teun Koopmeiners earned Atalanta a point from the penalty spot three minutes before half-time as Gian Piero Gasperini’s side gave up the final Champions League spot to Bologna.

Milan were annoyed by the penalty as coach Stefano Pioli said that Olivier Giroud “didn’t do anything” when he was penalised by Daniele Orsato for light contact with Emil Holm’s chest.

“Holm had his hands on his face as though he’d been kicked in the head… If he doesn’t go down like that Orsato doesn’t review it,” said Pioli.

Fifth-placed Atalanta will have to win their game in hand at Inter in order to reclaim fourth as they are two points behind Bologna and seven behind Milan.

Daniele Rugani forced home a stoppage time winner as Juventus defeated Frosinone 3-2 in Turin to end a worrying four-match winless run.

Defender Rugani managed to get his boot on Dusan Vlahovic’s flick-on from a corner in the fifth and final minute of injury time and get Juve, in second, going in the right direction.

Sunday’s win made Juve coach Massimiliano Allegri the first in Serie A history to get more than a thousand points, his total now at 1,002 according to statistics provider Opta.

Victor Osimhen’s second goal in a matter of days wasn’t enough to reignite Napoli’s hopes of European football as Zito Luvumbo struck in the 96th minute to snatch a 1-1 draw for Cagliari and leave Napoli ninth.

Stay informed with The Namibian – your source for credible journalism. Get in-depth reporting and opinions for only N$85 a month. Invest in journalism, invest in democracy –
Subscribe Now!

Latest News