Vowing not to repeat the mistakes of last season’s round of 16 struggle, Inter Milan left little doubt, scoring three goals in each half to knock off Benevento 6-2 at a virtually empty Guiseppe Meazza Sunday.
It was the third straight win in all competitions for Inter and the fourth in their last five matches.
Lautaro Martinez recorded his first brace with Inter in the second half as Antonio Candreva notched a last-second goal to couple with his first in the first half to lead the Nerazzurri into the quarterfinals of the Coppa Italia where they will take on Lazio.
It was a new lineup for Inter boss Luciano Spalletti as he rolled out a 4-4-2 with Martinez and Mauro Icardi up front, which seemed to bolster the attacking options for Inter.
Ivan Perisic, who started on the wing for Inter, picked up three assists in the win.
Inter started quickly as Benevento’s defense was difficult to respond.
It was a penalty awarded in the third minute that allowed the Nerazzurri to take the early lead after Mauro Icardi stepped up and placed his penalty kick past Benevento goalkeeper Lorenzo Montipó.
Inter 1-0 Benevento (Icardi Penalty) pic.twitter.com/Dqd4gA3LU0— InterYaSkriniar (@InterYaMedia) January 13, 2019
Just three minutes later, Inter doubled its lead with a follow-up shot from Antonio Candreva. Marcelo Brozovic swung in a corner kick that found Icardi’s head, but the Argentine’s header found the post. The ricochet went right to Candreva who blasted the ball past a diving Montipó.
Inter 2-0 Benevento (Candreva) pic.twitter.com/6SbAlVWlJc— InterYaSkriniar (@InterYaMedia) January 13, 2019
Benevento continued to struggle against Inter’s offensive press and, just before halftime, Henrique Dalbert — making his first start of the season — drilled a delivery past Montipó to give Inter a 3-0 lead at halftime.
Inter 3-0 Benevento (Dalbert) pic.twitter.com/zT0kwb9so6— InterYaSkriniar (@InterYaMedia) January 13, 2019
Three minutes after the restart, Martinez scored his first goal of the match to continue the runaway for Inter.
Inter 4-0 Benevento (Lautaro Martinez) pic.twitter.com/wLZgnY43Kg— InterYaSkriniar (@InterYaMedia) January 13, 2019
Benevento were finally able to pull a goal back in the 58th minute when Roberto Insigne curled a free kick past Daniele Padelli to make it 4-1.
Martinez earned his brace in the 66th minute and put the match out of reach for Inter.
Inter 5-1 Benevento (Lautaro Martinez) A well worked goal. Lautaro's touch in the build up and the finish... class. pic.twitter.com/ohc3cQVoYF— InterYaSkriniar (@InterYaMedia) January 13, 2019
In the 74th minute, Filippo Bandinelli headed home Benevento’s second goal, but Candreva erased it just before the final whistle to move Inter into the quarterfinals of the Coppa Italia where they will take on Lazio.
Last season, the Nerazzurri reached the quarterfinals after struggling to defeat Serie C side Pordenone at the Meazza. They were later defeated in the quarterfinals by AC Milan.
The match had a sense of eerie-ness to it as the San Siro was virtually empty as Inter played the match under a ban after racist slurs and chants were levied in a win against Napoli on Boxing Day.
Perhaps Inter plays better without a crowd?
Their next match, another home match, will be against Sassuolo on Jan. 19 and will also be played without fans.
What do you think? Post your comments below!