Wednesday January 15 2020
Conte: 'Excellent response'

Antonio Conte was happy with “an excellent response” from Inter after beating Cagliari 4-1 in the last 16 of the Coppa Italia.

Inter were held to a draw against Atalanta in Serie A last weekend and Juventus pulled clear at the top of the League.

On Tuesday, the Nerazzurri answered in a convincing manner to give Conte some “positive feedback” from the players who have been out injured during the last few months.

“It was certainly an excellent response from all of the lads,” Conte told Rai Sport. “Some of the hadn’t played for quite some time, like Nicolò Barella.

“It was the first game he started [after the injury]. I have some positive feedback. And Dimarco and Lazaro also did very well.

“The same applies to Borja Valero, who had an excellent game. Sanchez has shown that he is recovering and is getting close to a return regularly.

“I have a good connection with the lads, they want to do well. When you have a group like this, you are allowed to be satisfied.”

Inter are currently two points behind the Old Lady in the Scudetto battle, but the coach said it will “take patience”.

“We had a great first half, picking up 46 points despite all the problems,” Conte added. “It wasn’t easy. The difficulties strengthened us.

“The second half will be difficult, we will have to play, fight and grow. We are at the beginning of a path. It takes patience to assimilate everything. The positive thing is to immediately establish the feeling, commit to the idea of football we want to play.

“There’s room for improvement in our pressing. Sometimes we lower our guard and become too passive. I explain it to the guys, that you always have to be active. We must try to avoid conceding goals, even if I am satisfied with the performance.”

Romelu Lukaku scored two goals against the Rossoblu at San Siro on Tuesday and took his tally to 18 goals across all tournaments for Inter.

“We are talking about a player who is showing his strength,” Conte said. “He has room for improvement, in the same sense as Lautaro [Martinez], [Sebastiano] Esposito and [Alexis] Sanchez.

“We must work on it. We need them available and that’s the most important thing.”

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