Inter Milan 4-0 Cagliari: Martinez at the double as Nerazzurri go top
Lautaro Martinez scored twice as Inter Milan 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 bounces back
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.
Key Opta Facts
- Martinez has missed two of his last four Serie A penalties, having only failed to find the back of the net with one of the previous seven.
- Since 2017-18, no goalkeeper has saved more penalties than Cragno in Serie A (six).
- Sanchez became the 15th Inter player to score in Serie A this season, more than any other team.
- Calhanoglu has been involved in eight goals (five goals and three assists) in his last six league games.
Inter look to maintain their lead at the top of Serie A away at Salernitana next Friday. Cagliari are back in action two days earlier, when they welcome second-tier Cittadella in the Coppa Italia.