Inter Milan’s Belgium international Romelu Lukaku was subjected to racist abuse as he scored a second-half penalty to earn his new side a 2-1 victory at Cagliari in Serie A on Sunday. The former Manchester United striker appeared to be the target of monkey chants from the home crowd at the Sardegna Arena as he prepared to take the decisive spot-kick. Former Juventus forward Moise Kean was also on the receiving end of racist abuse by Cagliari fans at the same stadium last season.
The 26-year-old Lukaku sent goalkeeper Robin Olsen the wrong way with 20 minutes remaining to mark his second goal in as many games for his new club before turning to glare at the home fans responsible for the taunts.
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“I think that in Italy we must improve a lot and be more educated and respectful towards those doing their job,” Inter coach Antonio Conte told a news conference. “In other countries you support the team, you don’t insult the opposition like this. There must be the maximum respect. Today I was treated well and wasn’t insulted, other times it hasn’t happened like that and it’s not nice.”
Lautaro Martinez had opened the scoring just before the half-hour only for the hosts to level through Joao Pedro soon after the break.
Inter lead Serie A after two rounds on six points along with Torino and champions Juventus, while Cagliari have yet to pick up a point. The Milan club had got their season off to the perfect start with a 4-0 home win over promoted Lecce, but they struggled to find the same swagger against a Cagliari side featuring former Inter midfielder Radja Nainggolan.
“It was a different game to the win against Lecce, as I had warned everyone this would be tough,” Conte added. “Coming to Cagliari is never a walk in the park. Let it be known, I am very demanding and there is a lot we need to do in order to improve, but I also say we are glad to have won in a difficult arena.”
Martinez headed the visitors in front after 27 minutes but his celebrations were cut short by a raised offside flag, although the goal was awarded after a lengthy Video Assistant Referee (VAR) review.
The Sardinian side levelled five minutes into the second half when Pedro powered a header home from a whipped Nahitan Nandez cross. Stefano Sensi’s free-kick rattled the bar for Inter on the hour mark and the midfielder then proved crucial in the winning goal as he was tripped by Fabio Pisacane to hand Lukaku the chance to convert from the penalty spot.
Conte’s side welcome Udinese to San Siro in their next league fixture after the international break.
Lazio, Roma share points in ‘spectacular’ Rome derby
Luis Alberto’s second-half equaliser earned Lazio a 1-1 draw with AS Roma in a fast and furious Rome derby in Serie A on Sunday. Aleksandar Kolarov’s 17th-minute penalty put Roma ahead amid a flurry of chances with Lazio hitting the post three times and Roma twice inside the opening half hour.
Simone Inzaghi’s side looked the more threatening and levelled on the hour mark through Alberto’s strike. But they were denied by the frame of the goal again when substitute Marco Parolo hit the crossbar late on, before Manuel Lazzari thought he’d scored the winner in stoppage-time, only for the effort to be ruled out for offside in the build-up.
“It was a spectacular Rome Derby,” Roma coach Paulo Fonseca told Sky Sport Italia. “Coaches always lose a few years of life during games like this, but this was an anthem for football to those who love the sport.”
Fonseca’s counterpart Simone Inzaghi wasn’t quite as upbeat after seeing his side squander golden opportunities to take all three points. “Considering the game overall, there is real regret and disappointment, because we had 21 shots on goal and hit the woodwork four times,” he said. “There are inevitably regrets, because we had so many chances and you have to win games like that.”
The fixture, one of Italy’s most ferocious rivalries, had never been held in the opening two weeks of the season before and the sides came into the game in contrasting spirits after Lazio comfortably beat Sampdoria 3-0 and Roma were held to a 3-3 draw by Genoa.
Lazio midfielder Lucas Leiva’s volley came back off the post after three minutes before Roma’s Nicolo Zaniolo struck a shot off the upright. Roma broke the deadlock when Sergej Milinkovic-Savic was pinged for handball and Kolarov stepped up to send goalkeeper Thomas Strakosha the wrong way from the spot.
As astonishing period of play followed in front of a raucous crowd as Lazio strikers Ciro Immobile and Joaquin Correa hit the woodwork within a minute of each other before Zaniolo struck another shot off the post two minutes later.
Lazio continued to press for an equaliser after the break and were rewarded when Immobile laid a pass into the path of Alberto, who smashed a shot past Pau Lopez to level the scores.
Inzaghi’s side were not content to settle for a draw and came agonisingly close to taking maximum points when Parolo curled a shot off the crossbar with five minutes remaining before Lazzari’s stoppage-time goal was ruled out for offside. Parolo’s effort marked the sixth time the woodwork rattled during the match, setting a new Serie A record since Opta began gathering statistics in the 2004-05 season.
The result left Lazio on four points ahead of their trip to SPAL after the international break and Roma have picked up two points from their opening two games and host Sassuolo next.