Romelu Lukaku scored a quickfire second-half double to give Inter Milan a 2-0 win at Udinese on Sunday, ending their run of three successive 1-1 league draws and keeping them three points behind Serie A leaders Juventus.
The Belgian forward, who took his league tally for the season to 16, broke the deadlock in the 64th minute and converted a penalty seven minutes later for new-look Inter, who had been on the back foot for much of the game.
Inter, with 51 points from 22 games, stayed three points behind leaders Juventus, who beat Fiorentina 3-0 earlier on Sunday, and two ahead of Lazio, who thumped SPAL 5-1. However, Lazio have a game in hand, at home to Verona on Wednesday.
Inter coach Antonio Conte gave new signings Victor Moses and Christian Eriksen their Serie A debuts as they were included in the starting lineup and 17-year-old Sebastiano Esposito replaced suspended striker Lautaro Martinez.
“Lukaku has important qualities although he didn’t have his best game today, other than scoring a double,” said Inter coach Antonio Conte. “He’s still crucial for us and I’m happy to have insisted that he came.”
Conte added that his demands for reinforcements in the January transfer window had been justified. “A team like Inter has to have a strong bench,” he said.