Antonio Conte couldn’t imagine a better debut on the Nerazzurri’s bench as he led Inter to a convincing 4-0 win in their Serie A 2019-2020 opening match. Little mattered to him the fact that he was facing his hometown’s representative Lecce, a team where he spent six years as a player.
The former Nazionale’s coach showed no mercy for the newly promoted Giallorossi side, which fell under the strikes of Marcelo Brozovic, Stefano Sensi, and an impressive Romelu Lukaku. Antonio Candreva put the icicle on the cake with a 30-meter blaster that left no chance to poor goalkeeper Gabriel – a former Rossonero, hence double pleasure for Inter.
64000 people filled up the San Siro Stadium for Antonio Conte’s debut as head coach of Suning’s club – an attendance number the Nerazzurri had not been seeing since 2010. Inter supporters paid respect with a banner to former manager Gigi Simoni, the one of the unforgettable 1997-98 season, who has been in critical condition since suffering a stroke in June.
Conte lost center-back Stefan De Vrij during warm up, and had to hastily replace him with Andrea Ranocchia. His choice for the attacking line fell on Lautaro Martinez and much-awaited Romelu Lukaku. Former Sassuolo’s Stefano Sensi debuted in midfield, while Inter’s other colpo di mercato Nicolo’ Barella didn’t make it to the starting lineup.
Coach Fabio Liverani’s Lecce did what they could, and managed to hold their own for at least the first 45 minutes – despite ending it down 0-2. Too much was the technical difference between the two sides, as Marcelo Brozovic showed in 20th minute, inventing Inter’s opener literally out of nowhere with a delicious lob shot.
Three minutes later, Stefano Sensi concluded an impressive progression with a perfect left-foot shot that stunned the Salentini’s Brazilian goalkeeper. Brozovic risked scoring his second one with a volley that missed the target by a few inches, then it was Kwadwo Asamoah’s turn to make Lecce’s defense panic.
Romelu Lukaku stole the scene in the second half. In the 54th minute, the former Manchester United forward produced himself in an irresistible acceleration, but his pass for Lautaro Martinez was too long. That was just the prelude to Lukaku scoring his first Serie A goal, which he did by tapping the ball in from a defective save by Gabriel five minutes later.
The Belgian thanked his new supporters with a bow as Inter’s management triad Giuseppe Marotta, Zhang Jidong, and Javier Zanetti on the stands rejoiced in ecstasy. Inter have definitely found a new Number 9, as they wait to dispose of renegade and former captain Mauro Icardi…
45-million transfer Nicolo’ Barella set foot on the pitch in the 64th minute to make his debut in black-and-blue, and had the “merit” of causing Lecce’s Diego Farias to knock him down with a vicious tackle that earned him a direct red, wiping out the visitors’ residual hopes of scoring at least one.
After referee Federico La Penna disallowed a goal by Matteo Politano due to an offside by Romelu Lukaku, the Nerazzurri still managed to score the fourth when Antonio Candreva surprised Gabriel from 30 meters afar with a right-foot missile.
The referee showed the mercy Antonio Conte had lacked by blowing the final whistle right in the 90th minute, with no extra time. Conte’s inception as allenatore of the Nerazzurri was a triumph, whereas as far as Lecce and Antonio Liverani go, it was frankly difficult to expect they were going to leave San Siro with any point in their pocket.
August 26, 2019 – Serie A 2019-2020 Round 1
SCORERS: 21′ Brozovic, 24′ Sensi, 60′ Lukaku, 84′ Candreva
|INTER (3-5-2): Handanovic; D’Ambrosio, De Vrij, Skriniar; Candreva, Vecino (66′ Barella), Brozovic, Sensi (73′ Gagliardini), Asamoah; Lukaku, Lautaro Martinez (78′ Politano) (Padelli, Berni, Di Marco, De Vrij, Lazaro, Borja Valero, Dalbert, Esposito, Bastoni) Coach: Conte|
|LECCE (4-3-1-2): Gabriel; Rispoli (72′ Benzar), Rossettini, Lucioni, Calderoni; Petriccione (61′ Mancosu), Tachtsidis, Majer; Falco; La Mantia (61′ Farias), Lapadula (Vigorito, Bleve, Riccardi, Vera, Haye, Shakhov, Dubickas, Tabanelli, Dell’Orco) Coach: Liverani|
REFEREE: Mr. La Penna from Roma
NOTES: Yellow Cards: Lautaro Martinez (I), Petriccione, Lapadula (L); Red Card: Farias (L); Extra Time: 1st Half 0′, 2nd Half 0′