It took a deflected strike from substitute Christian Eriksen and last-gasp Achraf Hakimi counter to finally get the better of now relegated Crotone, but it’s enough to potentially give Inter the Scudetto tomorrow.
The Nerazzurri could be crowned champions if Atalanta fail to get all three points against Sassuolo on Sunday. Antonio Conte made some rare changes, bringing in Stefano Sensi and Matteo Darmian for Christian Eriksen and Ivan Perisic.
It was Crotone who had the first shot on target, Adam Ounas stinging Samir Handanovic’s gloves, then Sensi sprung the offside trap only to hesitate one-on-one with Alex Cordaz.
Romelu Lukaku came very close on 23 minutes when his glancing header from Sensi’s corner clipped the far upright.
Lukaku also saw a shot charged down by Koffi Djidji and Lautaro Martinez overhead kick on the rebound going over the bar. The Argentine’s first touch wasn’t perfect on an inspired Nicolò Barella forward pass, then Crotone lost Arkadiusz Reca to injury.
Alessandro Bastoni’s header was wide on a Barella cross, then Lautaro Martinez was unlucky to see his low drive bounce off the inside of the near post and back out with Cordaz stranded. That was the 10th time Inter struck the woodwork in the last seven games.
Hakimi blasted over the bar, but with no breakthrough, Conte made a triple substitution to shake things up. It certainly did the trick, because four minutes later two of them combined for a goal.
Alexis Sanchez had a back-heel flick for Lukaku, who with his back to goal laid it off for the Christian Eriksen strike that took a deflection off Lisandro Magallan to wrong-foot Cordaz at the near post.
Lukaku thought he’d made it 2-0 on 83 minutes after a smart give and go with Ivan Perisic, but the Croatian was offside in the build-up.
Perisic was involved again in stoppages, his ball flashing across the face of goal, but Hakimi and Lukaku sliding in failed to connect.
The second goal did arrive on the counter-attack from a Crotone free kick, as Barella sent Hakimi clear and he nutmegged Cordaz one-on-one.
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