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Lautaro Martinez at the double as Nerazzurri go top of Serie A

Lautaro Martinez scored twice as Inter went top of Serie A with a commanding 4-0 win over Cagliari at San Siro.

Martinez, who also had a penalty saved, opened the scoring with a first-half header and Alexis Sanchez doubled the lead shortly after the restart.

Hakan Calhanoglu’s thumping 25-yard strike increased the advantage, before Martinez put the icing on the cake by taking his Serie A tally for the season to 10 with a neat finish.

Simone Inzaghi’s side moved a point clear of city rivals Milan at the summit of the table after an eighth win in 10 league meetings with the Rossoblu.

No team have scored more goals from set-pieces than Inter in Serie A this season.

So it was no surprise that the hosts netted another to open the scoring against the side that had conceded the most in the Italian top flight, with Martinez powerfully heading in from Calhanoglu’s corner just before the half-hour mark.

Martinez had a great chance to add a second just before the break after Denzel Dumfries was brought down by Alessio Cragno in the box, but the goalkeeper redeemed himself by guessing correctly to keep out the spot-kick.

Inter doubled their lead within five minutes of the restart as Sanchez neatly guided home Nicolo Barella’s cross on the volley.

Calhanoglu got in on the act 66 minutes in as he beat Cragno with a stunning long-range strike.

Martinez was on target again two minutes later; latching onto Barella’s lofted through ball before slotting in his sixth league goal against Cagliari in seven appearances.

Sanchez rattled the bar late on as the defending champions made an emphatic statement as they rose to the summit.

What does it mean? History beckons for Inter

Inter have now scored 98 Serie A goals in 2021 – just one fewer than their record tally for a calendar year set back in 1950.

The Nerazzurri also recorded their 18th home league of the year – equalling their best tally from 1989 – and will fancy their chances of surpassing those records when they host Torino in their final match of 2021 on December 22.

Martinez on a roll

Argentina international Martinez has found the back of the net in four consecutive Serie A games for the first time since his move to Italy.

Although disappointed not to have made it a hat-trick after his penalty miss, he was a real handful and hit the target with all four of his shots.

Barella drew widespread criticism for the manner of his dismissal in a defeat to Real Madrid in the Champions League in midweek, but redeemed himself with a wonderful performance.

The midfielder provided two delicious assists for Sanchez and Martinez and also recorded game-high tallies of four key passes, 130 touches, 113 attempted passes and 107 successful passes.

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Peru missed a second-half penalty in a 1-0 loss to Argentina in Buenos Aires on Thursday, delivering another blow to their hopes of qualifying for the 2022 World Cup.

Trailing to a first-half goal from Lautaro Martinez, Peru had a golden opportunity to level the score when substitute Jefferson Farfan was brought down in the box 19 minutes into the second half as he attempted to round keeper Emiliano Martinez.

However, Yoshimar Yotun’s penalty clipped the bar as the visitors fell to a seventh defeat in 12 qualifiers.

“Those that take penalties are the great players and the rest is luck,” said Argentine goalkeeper Martinez.

The win saw Lionel Scaloni’s side move on to 25 points, three behind leaders Brazil, who are playing Uruguay on Thursday. The top four qualify automatically for Qatar 2022 and the fifth-placed side goes into an inter-regional playoff.

Argentina’s Christian Romero had a headed goal disallowed for offside after 10 minutes and Angel Di Maria missed two good chances while Peru’s Gianluca Lapadula squandered an excellent opportunity after skilfully chesting down a cross just metres from goal.

Argentina deservedly took the lead three minutes from half-time when Martinez glanced a header into the roof of the net.

Peru fought valiantly in the second half but there was no way back after the penalty miss and Argentina had a second goal from Guido Rodriguez ruled out two minutes from time.

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Lautaro Martinez accepts new Inter Milan contract

Serie A champions Inter Milan have reportedly reached an agreement with Lautaro Martinez to extend the striker’s contract this summer.

The 24-year-old scored his first goal of the new season as the Nerazzurri came from behind to beat Hellas Verona 3-1 away from home last weekend.

Following the departure of Romelu Lukaku to Chelsea, Inter have been desperate to keep hold of the Argentine, who was set to see his contract expire in 2023.

According to Italian journalist Gianluca Di Marzio, Martinez has now agreed to extend his contract by four or five years, worth around £6m per season plus bonuses.

The report states that there is a full agreement between both parties and only the player’s signature is missing for the deal to be finalised.

Martinez has been linked with a move to the Premier League this summer, with North London rivals Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal believed to have expressed their interest, but he is now set to commit his future with the San Siro giants.

The former Racing Club striker enjoyed an impressive 2020-21 campaign for the Scudetto champions, scoring 19 goals and providing 11 assists in 48 appearances in all competitions.

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Tottenham Hotspur dealt major blow in Lautaro Martinez pursuit

Tottenham Hotspur’s pursuit of Inter Milan striker Lautaro Martinez appears to be dead in the water following the latest update from the Nerazzurri’s CEO Giuseppe Marotta.

With uncertainty continuing to surround the future of Harry Kane, Nuno Espirito Santo’s side were thought to be making progress in their efforts to sign Martinez from cash-strapped Inter.

However, the Scudetto winners’ coffers have been boosted from the £97.5m sale of Romelu Lukaku to Chelsea, and Inter CEO Marotta has now confirmed that Martinez has made a decision on his Inter future.

Speaking to DAZN, Marotta said: “Lautaro Martinez has decided to stay at Inter, he strongly wants to stay also with many clubs approaching us with official bids to sign Lautaro. We’re so proud.”

The Argentine is therefore expected to pen an extension on his existing deal with expires in 2023, and he registered 17 goals and 10 assists from 38 Serie A games last season.

While Kane’s future at Tottenham is still not secure, Daniel Levy is supposedly refusing to accept Manchester City’s calls, and the 28-year-old has travelled with the team to face Wolverhampton Wanderers on Sunday

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Tottenham are pushing to complete a move for Inter Milan striker Lautaro Martinez after indicating they are willing to meet the club’s €71 million valuation, sources have confirmed.

Spurs and Arsenal are among the clubs tracking Martinez in hope of securing a deal with Inter, who are under pressure to offload players as a result of financial losses arising from the coronavirus pandemic.

It is understood Spurs believe they have agreed a fee in principle but sources close to Inter have dismissed suggestions they are ready to sanction a transfer.

The situation has been complicated by Chelsea’s pursuit of Romelu Lukaku. Inter have already seen Achraf Hakimi join Paris Saint-Germain and also agreed a fee of €115m with Chelsea for Lukaku.

The departure of Lukaku will spark fury among Inter fans and the club have a difficult decision whether to exacerbate tensions further by allowing Lukaku’s strike partner to leave.

It is unclear whether the departures of Hakimi and Lukaku will be enough to relieve the financial pressure from Inter’s Chinese owners Suning. They are also listening to offers for the club as a whole after Chinese President Xi Jinping urged the country’s investors to focus their efforts on domestic pursuits.

Spurs are privately insisting the club’s pursuit of a striker this summer is an effort to add support for Harry Kane and not replace him despite Manchester City’s desire to sign the England captain.

Tottenham have so far shown no willingness to negotiate with City, who are refusing at this stage to offer the £150m it would take for chairman Daniel Levy to consider doing business. Sources have also suggested new head coach Nuno Espirito Santo wants his team to play with two forwards this season.

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Internazionale moved 11 points clear at the top of Serie A as Romelu Lukaku and Lautaro Martinez struck in a 2-1 win over Sassuolo on Wednesday, the runaway leaders’ 10th consecutive league victory.

Belgium striker Lukaku guided a header into the top corner in the first half before his Argentine partner finished off a counter-attack to continue the Nerazzurri’s charge towards the title

Sassuolo dominated possession at San Siro but were frustrated by a stubborn home defence until Hamed Traore curled home a superb finish five minutes from time.

“It was very important for us, to climb up the table and increase the gap,” Martinez said after the match. “At the start of the second half of the season we had a talk, and now we’re doing everything that the coach wants.”

With nine matches left, Inter are firmly on course to win their first Serie A title since 2010 with 71 points, 11 ahead of second-placed AC Milan. Sassuolo remained ninth with 40 points.

The fixture was postponed on March 20 after a COVID-19 outbreak in the Inter squad.

The rescheduled date gave Antonio Conte’s side a chance to stretch their lead, and they wasted little time as Lukaku’s glancing header found the top corner from Ashley Young’s cross after 10 minutes.

Jeremie Boga was denied by a last-ditch Milan Skriniar block and Pedro Obiang’s shot was held at the second time of asking by Samir Handanovic, but the visitors could not make their 68% possession count.

The hosts hit on the counter for their second after 67 minutes, as Lukaku found Martinez with a pass and the striker arrowed a shot home.

Sassuolo found a way back into the match in style when Traore struck a half volley into the top corner.

Inter went close to a late third as Sassuolo pushed for an equaliser, substitute Alexis Sanchez’s lob landing on the roof of the net and Lukaku having an effort disallowed for offside.

Conte led the Juventus to the first three titles of their nine-year run, before taking over the Inter job in 2019 with the aim of shifting the balance of power back to Milan.

“To think that in two years we have made up so many points on the dominant force of the league for the last nine years, I could not have imagined it in my wildest dreams,” Conte said.

“It does not mean we are better than Juve, who have a very strong team. We rolled up our sleeves and started to work in an important way towards an objective, to be credible.

“The league was always dominated by one team and we have managed to change that. That has motivated us a lot, it was a boost for everyone, especially for the many guys who are fighting for this goal for the first time.

“Last year we played in a Europa League final, now we are aiming to achieve the maximum objective.”

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Two goals from Lautaro Martinez and one from Romelu Lukaku earned Inter Milan a 3-0 win over AC Milan in Sunday’s derby clash at the San Siro, sending Antonio Conte’s side four points clear at the top of the Serie A standings.

Inter got off to the perfect start as Lukaku crossed for strike partner Martinez to head home after just five minutes to give his side the lead.

Three stunning saves at the start of the second half from Inter goalkeeper Samir Handanovic kept his side in front as Milan came out with added impetus in the second half.

Those stops proved crucial as Martinez finished a fine, flowing Inter move to score his 13th Serie A goal of the season to give his side some breathing space in the 57th minute

Not to be outdone, Lukaku made sure of a fourth league win in a row for Inter with a well-taken goal in the 66th minute, as the league leaders moved onto 53 points, four clear of Milan.

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Lautaro Martinez scored a hat-trick as Inter Milan kicked off 2021 in blistering form with a 6-2 win over lowly Crotone on Sunday to take top spot in Serie A.

Inter claimed an eighth consecutive league win to move two points ahead of AC Milan who travel to midtable Benevento later on Sunday with champions Juventus hosting Udinese.

Martinez and Romelu Lukaku proved decisive for the northeners, the strike duo being involved in five of Inter’s goals.

Antonio Conte’s side had been pegged back 2-2 at the break with Niccolo Zanellato breaking through with a 12th-minute header for the promoted Calabrians who are second from bottom with the worst attack in the league.

But Martinez picked up a Lukaku cross to pull the hosts level eight minutes later.

Martinez had a role in Inter’s second just after half an hour when Crotone defender Luca Marrone turned the ball into his own net under pressure from the Argentina forward.

Vladimir Golemic put the sides level six minutes later after Arturo Vidal fouled Arkadiusz Reca, with Conte replacing the Chilean midfielder after the break.

Martinez pulled Inter ahead before the hour connecting with a Marcelo Brozovic through ball and headed in his third with 12 minutes to go off a rebound.

Lukaku blasted in his 50th goal in the Inter jersey after 64 minutes before going off after taking a knock to his thigh, before Achraf Hakimi sealed the win with three minutes to go.

“There is great desire and it shows,” said Conte as Inter target their first Serie A title since 2010 with their European campaign over this season.

“It’s important to continue like this, we produce and create a lot, we score a lot of goals, it’s a pity for the goals conceded.”