Inter Milan returned to the summit of the Serie A table, as a fine 3-1 victory over AS Roma at the San Siro made it five straight wins for the ‘Nerazzurri’, with a sensational goal by Marcelo Brozović standing out amongst three clinical strikes from Simone Inzaghi’s men.
Hakan Çalhanoğlu forced the first save of the evening after 15 minutes, with a vicious strike from 25 yards requiring Roma custodian Rui Patrício to make a diving save, while aerial expert Gianluca Mancini latched onto a free-kick, only to head narrowly over the upright. Inter punished their visitors, breaking forward from the goal kick with a passage of neat play, and allowing Çalhanoğlu to slice a ball through the core of Roma’s backline. The Turk found Denzel Dumfries with precision, and his Dutch colleague – having timed a run from wide to perfection – finished low beyond Patrício.
All plans for Roma to keep the mere one-goal margin intact up to HT were torn to shreds eight minutes before the break by a piece of genius from Marcelo Brozović. A turnover in possession saw Ivan Perišić launch a counter, and the Croat’s lofted pass found his compatriot, who wriggled past a slew of red and gold and fired a rocket from the corner of the 18-yard box into Patrício’s opposite corner, making a mockery of Sérgio Oliveira’s attempted last-ditch tackle.
Inter took next to no time to wrap up the points after the restart, doing so via Lautaro Martinez’s clinical header from a Çalhanoğlu corner, capitalising on non-existent marking to bag his 16th goal of the season, and continuing his rich vein of form after a midweek brace against AC Milan. While José Mourinho made a double substitution after the hour mark to try and salvage some pride, all in attendance knew that Inter had long extended their unbeaten run against Roma to 11 competitive H2Hs.
Inter came agonisingly close to registering a fourth goal with just over a quarter of an hour remaining, thanks to a mix-up in the Roma area and a botched back pass to Patrício finding Joaquín Correa at point-blank range. The Argentine forward did his bit, but a great save from Roma’s number one instead sent a net-bound ball spinning away via the woodwork.
Roma belatedly reasserted themselves, and netted a scant consolation in the 84th minute. A chain of passes through the Inter defensive lines ended with a sumptuous centred ball to Henrikh Mkhitaryan, who fired first-time high past the largely untroubled Samir Handanović. Despite that late piece of ball-watching, the ‘Nerazzurri’ are deserving – if likely fleeting – table-toppers tonight, while Roma could potentially end the weekend outside the top six.