Inter Milan held off a late Sassuolo surge to win 4-3 and keep pace with leaders Juventus in Serie A on Sunday as Claudio Ranieri settled for a goalless draw against former club Roma in his first game as Sampdoria coach.
Romelu Lukaku and Lautaro Martinez each bagged a brace for Inter in a seven-goal thriller to keep Antonio Conte’s side second, a point behind Juventus who beat Bologna 2-1 on Saturday.
The match at Sassuolo’s Mapei Stadium was briefly interrupted before the break after a parachutist inexplicably landed on the pitch just as Lukaku was about to take a penalty.
The man was quickly led off by security agents as players and fans looked on bewildered. Then the former Manchester United striker slotted in to give Inter a 3-1 lead.
Martinez had opened the scoring after two minutes. He added a penalty after 71 minutes, following Lukaku’s quick-fire double on 38 and 45 minutes.
Inter were in control 4-1 with 20 minutes to go, when Antonio Conte brought on winger Matteo Politano and midfielder Valentino Lazaro for their first appearances this season.
Then Filip Djuricic (74) and Jeremie Boga (81) hit back for the hosts to add to Domenic Berardi’s first-half goal.
Inter held on for a win after consecutive defeats against Barcelona in the Champions League and Juventus in Serie A.
“Once it goes to 3-1 and 4-1, it should be over,” said Lukaku who has now scored five Serie A goals in eight games.
“In the first half, we did everything well. However, we should have scored in the first 15 minutes after the restart to really kill off the match.
“The positive we take is that we got the three points, but we need to defend better than that.
“It was very important to get this win.”
Sassuolo fell to their fifth loss of the season and sit 16th just above the relegation zone.
“For more than an hour we played very well, then there was a blackout that we will analyse in detail,” said Inter assistant coach Cristian Stellini speaking as Conte missed the post-match conference because of illness.
“We did well, but we still have a lot of work to do.”
AS Roma’s injury crisis grew worse as they lost both Bryan Cristante and Nikola Kalinic early as they settled for a fourth draw in eight games against Ranieri’s basement club Sampdoria.
Edin Dzeko came on for Kalinic with his face protected by a mask after breaking a cheekbone two weeks ago.
The Romans also played the final five minutes a man down after Justin Kluivert was sent off for a second yellow card.
Roma falls to sixth in the table behind Cagliari who beat SPAL 2-0 as Sampdoria stay bottom but take their first point in four games.
Ranieri said he had made progress.
“I’m satisfied especially after only a week training together and against a very good Rome,” said Ranieri, who turned 68 on Sunday. “Now let me have time to get to know the players and then we will try to find solutions to score.”
Stefano Okaka’s header was enough to give struggling Udinese their second win of the season as Torino slipped to ninth.
Stefano Pioli takes charge of his first game as AC Milan coach later Sunday against Lecce.