Serie A Recap: Ronaldo, Lukaku Goal Fest; Ibra Makes Debut

Oluwole Ola

Romelu Lukaku scored twice as Inter Milan held on to top spot in Serie A on Monday with a 3-1 win over Napoli to keep the pressure on Juventus who earlier swept past Cagliari with Cristiano Ronaldo netting his first hat-trick in the Italian top flight.

Antonio Conte’s Inter ended their 23-year wait for a league win in Naples to stay in pole position, level on points with Juventus after 18 games, but ahead on goal difference.

 

Lazio are third, six points adrift but with a game in hand, after stretching their winning run in the league to nine matches on Sunday with a 2-1 victory over Brescia.

Inter’s three goals all came from mistakes from Napoli, runners-up the past two seasons but only eighth this term.

Lukaku broke through on 14 minutes with a powerful solo run through the Napoli defence, with goalkeeper Alex Meret fumbling the second into goal in the 33rd minute. Arkadiusz Milik pulled a goal back for Napoli four minutes before the break. But Lautaro Martinez added the third after the hour mark, following another mix-up in the Napoli defence, to give Inter their first win at the Stadio San Paolo since October 1997.

In Turin, Ronaldo struck for the fifth consecutive league game as the champions bounced back from their Italian Super Cup defeat by Lazio.

Ronaldo, 34, broke the deadlock just after the interval. The Portuguese striker added a second from the penalty spot on 67 minutes then set up substitute Gonzalo Higuain nine minutes from time, before completing his hat-trick a minute later.

Lukaku and Ronaldo’s goals overshadowed Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s return for AC Milan as the Swedish star came off the bench in the 55th minute in a goalless draw against Sampdoria.

 

 

The 38-year-old had not played since leaving MLS side LA Galaxy in October. He came on for Poland striker Krzysztof Piatek to deafening applause from the San Siro crowd after rejoining the club last week. But there was little else to cheer for the hosts who extended their winless run to three games and remain 12th in the table.

The seven-time European champions are 13 points off Champions League qualification, a competition they have not played since the 2013-14 season.

Atalanta continued their fine form, closing to within a point of fourth-placed Roma, who lost 2-0 to Torino on Sunday, with another 5-0 rout, this time of seventh-placed Parma. Atalanta were already three goals up before the break thanks to Papu Gomez, Remo Freuler and Robin Gosens, with Josip Ilicic adding a second-half double.

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