By Jerry Mancini.
Inter Milan were victorious against Udinese on Sunday evening, keeping pace with Juventus at the top of the table.
Inter currently find themselves three points off the top, but before the match were winless in three straight Serie A games.
With just over an hour gone and the game tied at 0-0, it seemed the Nerazzurri were heading for a fourth consecutive draw.
Udinese also failed to capitalize on their own chances — something which continues to be their downfall this season.
Antonio Conte made two substitutions right before the hour mark as Marcelo Brozovic and Alexis Sanchez entered the fray.
The young forward, Sebastiano Esposito, failed to capitalize on his chances showing he needs time to develop and grow.
Sanchez gave new life to Inter, and it only took the Nerazzurri five minutes to score after the forward came off the bench.
Romelu Lukaku opened the scoring at the 64th minute. Nicolo Barella made a nice pass down the right channel and the striker scored left-footed.
“It wasn’t an easy match,” said Antonio Conte after the game. “Udinese also created problems for us during the first meeting this season because they’re a physical side with lots of running.”
“We tried to make a match of it but they were extremely focused and ready to threaten us on the counter.
“It isn’t easy to face similar situations every Sunday, but precisely for that reason, the fact that we have more quality in the squad allows us to switch things up.
“The change helped us but we can forget that we started with a number of youngsters, therefore, we’re not working on just the present but also the future.
“It wasn’t an easy win. I’m pleased with the performance apart from the last 10 minutes when we dropped back a bit too much.
“Lukaku has really important qualities, however, aside from his brace, today wasn’t his best match.
“Romelu is a decisive player for us. He’s integrated really well and I can only speak highly of him. I’m very happy to have insisted on signing him.”
Lukaku continues to excel this season with Inter and has been a good signing for the club this year.
Later in the match he added another to the scoresheet, converting on a penalty at the 71st minute to give him his second of the match.
The forward has now scored 16 goals this season and finds himself in third place behind Ciro Immobile and Cristiano Ronaldo.
Udinese had plenty of chances to score but Kevin Lasagna and Rodrigo de Paul failed to convert their opportunities.
Conte went on to discuss the upcoming Derby della Madonnina:
“We must prepare for the match in the same manner as always, with hard work and by focusing on our technique, tactics and fitness.
“We know how much it matters to the fans, while it’s also important for us, beyond just getting all three points.”