Romelu Lukaku scored two, assisted Roberto Gagliardini and gave Sebastiano Esposito his debut Serie A goal in Inter’s 4-0 demolition of Genoa.
There were reports even before the final whistle that Thiago Motta would be fired by Genoa and replaced by Diego Lopez, making him their third coach when not even midway through the season.
The Nerazzurri needed a win to spend Christmas joint top of the table with Juventus, having drawn two in a row with Roma and Fiorentina. Antonio Conte’s squad was even more limited than usual, as Lautaro Martinez and Marcelo Brozovic were suspended, with Alexis Sanchez, Nicolò Barella and Kwadwo Asamoah injured, Stefano Sensi not fully fit. Therefore, 17-year-old Sebastiano Esposito was given his first Serie A start.
Thiago Motta (who won the Treble at Inter) missed suspended Goran Pandev, plus Lukas Lerager, Christian Kouame, Riccardo Saponara, Antonio Barreca, Sinan Gumus and Cristian Zapata.
The last time Genoa won a Serie A match away to Inter was in March 1994, losing six in a row here, scoring one goal and conceding 14.
Esposito tested Ionut Radu at the base of the near post, then Cristiano Biraghi’s cross skimmed Romelu Lukaku’s head, Matias Vecino’s foot and the back post.
Roberto Gagliardini was not fully fit, but still in the starting XI and his header on a free kick forced a save.
Gagliardini was again dangerous, his looping header on a Biraghi chipped assist acrobatically slapped out from under the bar by Radu. Curiously, Gagliardini has scored only nine Serie A goals in his career, five of them against Genoa.
Inter were pushing and broke through when Antonio Candreva’s cross was redirected by a Lukaku whiplash header into the near bottom corner, as he didn’t even jump, simply changed the trajectory of the ball.
Within 120 seconds, the hosts had doubled their lead. Lukaku was involved again, laying off a throw-in for Gagliardini, whose strike took a deflection off Cristian Romero to squirm in at the near post despite Radu getting his hand to it.
At the dawn of the second half, Lukaku fired straight at Radu after a dismal Romero back-pass in the Genoa box, while another awful attempt at playing out from the back almost gifted Esposito a goal.
Samir Handanovic made his first save of the game after an hour, getting down to push Antonio Sanabria’s snapshot round the post one-handed.
Kevin Agudelo bundled into the back of Gagliardini for an inevitable penalty and Lukaku picked up the ball, but then handed it to the 17-year-old debutant. Esposito converted with a very well-taken spot-kick, fired hard and low into the near corner, despite Radu guessing the right direction. With his parents in the stands, he understandably had a wild celebration for this first Serie A goal.
At the age of 17 years and 172 days, Esposito became the second youngest Inter scorer in Serie A history, after Mario Corso in 1958, when he was 17 years and 97 days old.
Genoa didn’t give in, Handanovic flying to push a deflected Sanabria effort out from under the bar, then Lukaku making the block on Ravella’s long-range volley.
Lukaku’s earlier generosity was repaid, as he hit a scorcher in off the underside of the bar at the far top corner, giving Radu no chance for 4-0.
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