Inter Milan's Lautaro Martinez celebrates after he scored his side's third goal during the Serie A soccer match between Inter Milan and Crotone at the San Siro Stadium in Milan, Italy, Sunday, Jan. 3, 2021. (AP Photo-Antonio Calanni)

A Lautaro Martinez hat-trick saw Inter Milan hammer struggling Crotone 6-2 to climb to the top of the Serie A table.

Nigeria striker Simeon Nwankwo featured for Crotone, as he came on in the 61st minute but could not prevent his side getting hammered.

Also on target for Inter were Romelu Lukaku and Achraf Hakimi.

The win took Antonio Conte’s above AC Milan to 36 points while Crotone are 19th on nine points.

Crotone had three chances in quick succession with Junior Messias and Pedro Pereira, and were third time lucky as Messias cross to the back post for unmarked Niccolò Zanellato’s header on 12 minutes.

Messias almost had a second when he sprinted from midfield to go one-on-one with Samir Handanovic, only to stumble on the ball.

Inter equalised on 20th minute when a Lukaku through ball released Martinez, who shrugged off Luca Marrone to fire right-footed from just inside the area.

Inter went 2-1 up in the 31st minute off an own goal by Luca Marrone who turned in Nicolo Barella’s pull back.


However, a mistimed tackle from Arturo Vidal on Recca saw Crotone awarded a penalty on 36 minutes which Vladimir Golemic converted after review with VAR.

Inter restored their lead on 57 minutes with a well-worked goal. Lukaku’s back-heel flick found Brozovic, who immediately spread it down the left for Martinez to fire into the far top corner.

Lukaku finally got in on the act with a goal of his own to mark his 50th Serie A appearance. The Belgian controlled a long Alessandro Bastoni ball over the top, turned Sebastiano Luperto and drilled home to make it 4-2 on 64 minutes.

However, moments later Lukaku stopped and sat down on the pitch, complaining of a muscular problem, and had to come off.

Martinez completed his hat-trick with 12 minutes left in the game as Ivan Perisic saw his strike beaten away by Cordaz, but only as far as Lautaro’s header from four yards.

And in the 87th minute Hakimi completed the rout as he hit a low shot into the far bottom corner with his left foot from the edge of the area.

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