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Inter dominate Milan derby, win 3-0 to open 4-point lead in Serie A

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Rome, Feb 22 (IANS) The highly-anticipated Milan derby turned out to be a lop-sided one, as Inter Milan swept aside city rivals AC Milan 3-0, with Lautaro Martinez bagging a brace and Inter goalkeeper Samir Handanovic playing heroics.

It was the most eye-catching Derby della Madonnina in recent years, not only because it was a head-to-head for the top spot, with only one point separating the two teams, but also because of the clash between Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Romelu Lukaku, as the Swede was suspected of racially insulting his former Manchester United teammate in the Coppa Italia quarterfinals last month, Xinhua news reports.

Both sides had a relatively full squad to choose from, as Christian Eriksen got the nod in midfield for Inter, while Ibrahimovic led Milan’s starting line-up and goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma marked his 200th Serie A appearance on Sunday.

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Inter started strong and broke the deadlock in under five minutes, as Lukaku’s square ball was blocked by Simon Kjaer, but the Belgian followed up to float a cross for the unmarked Martinez to steer in a twisting header.

For Milan, Theo Hernandez saw his weak right-footed strike whistle past the post, while at the other end Ivan Perisic forced Donnarumma into a one-handed save, and Martinez’s follow-up ballooned over the bar.

The Rossoneri had a aggressive start after the break, but Handanovic performed a series of saves to deny attempts from Ibrahimovic and Sandro Tonali.

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But just as Milan were starting to pin them back, Inter scored a second with a well-worked team goal in the 56th minute, as Eriksen’s through-ball released Perisic to pull back for Martinez to tap in from close range.

Lukaku added a sensational third 10 minutes later when the hitman sprinted from midfield before beating Donnarumma with a ferocious strike.

With the win, Inter now have a four-point lead over Milan at the top of the Serie A table.

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Elsewhere, Napoli dropped to seventh after a 4-2 defeat away to Atalanta. The Partenopei have been decimated by injuries lately, and striker Victor Osimhen was stretchered off in stoppage time after a clash of heads.

Also on Sunday, 10-man Benevento held Roma 0-0, while Parma shared spoils with Udinese in a 2-2 draw.

–IANS

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