MILAN (AP)Inter Milan sorely missed Romelu Lukaku on Wednesday night.
Inter’s forwards were guilty of some wayward finishing as they failed to put away any of the team’s 18 attempts in a 1-0 loss to Real Madrid in the Champions League.
Lukaku, meanwhile, has scored four goals in as many matches since moving from Inter to Chelsea for 115 million euros ($135 million in August), including the winner in a 1-0 victory over Zenit St. Petersburg on Tuesday.
Inter hadn’t appeared to suffer too much in his absence, scoring nine goals in its three opening Serie A matches – the joint-highest in the league along with Roma and Lazio.
But those goals came against Genoa, Hellas Verona and Sampdoria, and the Nerazzurri attack struggled in its first real test on Wednesday.
Inter next faces Bologna on Saturday and its opponent has conceded just two goals, keeping two clean sheets in its past two matches.
”We have to improve the things we didn’t do so well but there were lots of good things too, especially in the first half,” Inter forward Lautaro Martinez said. ”We have to build on that first-half display and keep working hard on the training ground to become better.
”Now we have to focus on getting three points against Bologna. They’re another tricky side who make a real physical battle of it.”
Martinez formed a lethal partnership with Lukaku in their two years together at Inter, earning the nickname LuLa.
The Argentina forward has scored two goals in his past two league matches. New signings Edin Dzeko and Joaquin Correa appear to be settling in well and both scored on their debuts, with the latter netting twice.
But the game against Real Madrid was Dzeko’s second full match in a matter of days, having also played the entire 90 minutes against Sampdoria on Sunday. And the 35-year-old showed clear signs of tiredness toward the end of the match.
”We deserved so much more. But if you don’t score goals it’s difficult to win,” Dzeko said.
Inter coach Simone Inzaghi is likely to hand Correa his first start against Bologna and will be looking for more precision in front of goal from the former Lazio player and the rest of the Nerazzurri attack.
It will be down to Correa, Dzeko and Martinez to propel Inter forward in the defense of its Serie A crown and in the Champions League. And that will allow the Nerazzurri to put some distance between themselves and the shadow of Lukaku.
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