Romelu Lukaku scores 250th career goal as Inter Milan beat Slavia Prague in Champions League
Belgian striker reaches new landmark to help Italians keep alive their hopes of reaching the last 16
Lautaro Martinez grabbed two goals and Romelu Lukaku also scored as Inter Milan beat Slavia Prague 3-1 in the Champions League on Wednesday, keeping alive its hopes of qualifying for the knockout stages.
Lukaku dribbled past two defenders on the right before crossing to set up Martinez for the first goal in the 19th minute, with his strike partner shooting high into the net past goalkeeper Ondrej Kolar.
Inter then thought it had gone 2-0 up in the 35th, only for the score to be 1-1 moments later instead.
Martinez set up Lukaku for an easy tap-in, but the goal was ruled out by VAR because of a foul on Slavia forward Peter Olayinka at the other end – leading the referee to point to the penalty spot. Tomas Soucek converted the penalty to level for Slavia.
Inter's €80 million (Dh323m) record signing finally got his goal when he finished off a quick attack in the 81st after rounding Kolar to score easily into an empty net. It was his 250th career goal – 198 in club football and a further 52 for Belgium.
Lukaku then crossed for Martinez to volley home the third two minutes from time. It was the fifth goal for the Argentine in the last four Champions League games and 11th in all competitions this season.
“I don’t like to speak about a single player, I like to speak about the team, but for sure our two strikers performed very well,” Inter manager Antonio Conte said. “I’m happy for them because for the strikers it is important to score and especially if these goals allow us a chance to go through to the next stage.
"We gave meaning to the match against Barca [in their final group game] by winning. We are expecting a great match, hard, but we know that we can count on 80,000 people who will come to the stadium to push us. That was what we wanted."
Lukaku grabbed his first goal in the Champions League after scoring 10 in Serie A. “We knew we had to win and showed the desire and the quality that we had,” Lukaku said. “There were moments we had difficulties, but we defended well and had it under control. We knew what we had to do and we are very happy.
“Today’s result is very important for us because before it we were in a difficult situation. Next we will play against Barcelona. They are among the best three teams in the world.
“We are playing very well as a team at the moment and winning many games. We must continue like this and need to give even more. We always want to win.
"We are very good in defence. When I play against our defenders in training I have difficulty but when I play in games, I am happy.”
Barcelona sealed first place in Group F with 11 points after beating Borussia Dortmund 3-1 in the night’s other game. The German side sit in second place, level on seven points with Inter – but the Italians have a better head-to-head record.
Victory over Barcelona at San Siro on December 10 – or if they at least match Dortmund's result at home to Slavia – would clinch Inter's place in the last 16.
"The game went the wrong way, we had many losses during the game and Inter, leaning on two excellent forwards, could capitalise on that," said Slavia manager Jindrich Trpisovsky.
"Inter's performance improved in the second half and ours was getting worse. In fact, they could have scored the decider much earlier."
Updated: November 28, 2019 10:51 AM