Alexis Sanchez scored before being sent off in a dramatic first Inter start as his side battled to a 3-1 away win over Sampdoria.
Inter made it six victories from six in Serie A, ensuring they kept the two-point lead over Juventus at the top of the table that they held at the start of Saturday.
Two goals in the space of 128 first-half seconds from Stefano Sensi and Sanchez had Antonio Conte’s men on course for a dominant victory in response to Juve’s earlier win over SPAL.
Sanchez received a second yellow for diving early in the second half and there was brief alarm for 10-man Inter when that was followed by a strike from Samp’s Jakub Jankto, but Roberto Gagliardini wrapped up the points.
| THAT’S IT
out of for the Nerazzurri
— Inter (@Inter_en) 28 September 2019
After a scrappy opening 20 minutes, Inter scored two goals in rapid succession.
First, in-form Sensi fired in an effort from 30 yards which struck Sanchez on the back and deflected past Emil Audero in the Sampdoria goal.
Then, on Inter’s next attack, another Sensi strike that was hit less cleanly was latched on to by an opportunistic Sanchez, who knew more about this one as he pounced to slot in from inside the six-yard box.
Antonio Candreva’s goal from a Sanchez chipped pass was ruled out for offside before Lautaro Martinez fired wide from one good chance and struck another straight at the keeper.
Audero denied Sensi as Inter ended the first half in complete control but the match took a dramatic twist 54 seconds after the restart. When a Martinez shot was saved, Sanchez went down under pressure from Julian Chabot, who appeared to back out of the challenge.
That immediately earned Sanchez a second booking – his first having come just before the break for a foul on Albin Ekdal.
Samp’s first shot on target got them back into the match, Jankto collecting a pass from Karol Linetty before turning and finding the bottom corner with an angled left-footed strike – his first league goal for the club.
But just after the hour mark – six minutes after Jankto’s strike – weak goalkeeping from Audero meant Marcelo Brozovic’s over-hit pass was eventually parried into the path of Gagliardini to tap in.
What does it mean? Inter poised for pivotal week
Romelu Lukaku, Danilo D’Ambrosio and Nicolo Barella – who all came on after Jankto’s goal – were rested by Conte along with Diego Godin ahead of a crucial week that sees Inter take on Barcelona and Juve in their two main competitions.
Sanchez’s dramatic debut was the interesting talking point here, but the bigger picture is Inter’s magnificent start domestically and another confident performance in a game they dominated despite playing half of it with 10 men.
Samp are bottom as the pressure grows on boss Eusebio Di Francesco.
Supreme Sensi shines again
Sensi already looks like one of the signings of the season. He continued his fine form here and ended with a stat line that read one goal, one assist and two key passes.
The midfielder also had another shot well saved just before the break and Conte took no risks with the match safe at 3-1 with 25 minutes to go, bringing Sensi off to keep him fresh for the key week ahead.
— OptaPaolo (@OptaPaolo) 28 September 2019
Martinez needs goals to keep starting spot
Martinez has impressed with his all-round play this season, but with Lukaku and Sanchez among Inter’s attacking options he will want to improve his goalscoring rate to remain a prominent part of Conte’s plans.
He had three excellent chances in this game but could not covert any of them, Audero denying him twice while another effort was fired wide. Martinez is undoubtedly an extremely promising player, but seven Serie A goals in 33 games is a record that needs to get better.
It is a huge week for Inter, who are at Camp Nou on Wednesday for Champions League business before they meet Juve in the Derby d’Italia at San Siro on October 6.
Samp are in desperate need of points when they travel to Hellas Verona next Saturday.
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