No one loves playing against Salernitana like Lautaro Martinez. Inter’s ace came off the bench and put a hattrick plus one past Guillermo Ochoa in 27 minutes, saving the Nerazzurri from what had been an hour-long slog at the Stadio Arechi. But instead of more dropped points, the night's storyline ended up being far more favorable from an Inter perspective. The Nerazzurri were 4-0 victors over Salernitana by the time all was said and done, and though they didn’t play well, it’s the points that count. Lautaro was the hero, with not one, not two, not three, but four goals propelling Inter to a crucial bounce back three points, as well as bringing his all-time tally against Salernitana to 9 and making him the first substitute to ever achieve such a feat of scoring in Serie A. They don’t call him Salernitana Man for nothing, after all. L
Simone Inzaghi made 5 changes from the midweek loss to Sassuolo, bringing in Davy Klaassen and Alexis Sanchez for their first starts of the campaign. Salernitana, meanwhile, lined up in a 3-4-2-1 with Boulaye Dia back in the XI and Antonio Candreva unavailable due to injury.
Inter started strongly and forced the hosts onto their back foot. Guillermo Ochoa tipped a Marcus Thuram header just over the bar in the 6th minute before Alexis Sanchez skied a golden opportunity near the penalty spot from a Carlos Augusto pass in the 7th. Inter’s red-hot start wasn’t to last, however, and as the tempo slowed Salernitana gained first a foothold and then the upper hand in proceedings. The Granata generated a handful of half chances that could easily have been much worse for Inter if not for some poor finishing and by the time halftime rolled around, both sides were quite similar at 0.58xg (Salernitana) to 0.79xg (Inter). The shot tally was 9 and 10 each but only 1 on target from either side. Though Inter held 68% possession, it wasn’t very effective with it and reverted back to the slow, boring football of last season with a predictable outcome.
Whatever was said at halftime didn’t work as the second half was more of the same, and Inzaghi had seen enough ten minutes in. Lautaro Martinez, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, and Kristjan Asllani were introduced, replacing Sanchez, Klaasen, and Calhanoglu respectively. The arrival of Inter’s captain on the scene proved particularly crucial, as Lautaro rescued the Nerazzurri from deadlock less than 10 minutes after his entrance. El Toro dinked a Thuram square ball over Ochoa on the counter to tally his 6th of the campaign in the 62nd minute.
Cheeky little chip!— CBS Sports Golazo ⚽️ (@CBSSportsGolazo) September 30, 2023
Lautaro Martínez with a deft finish to put Inter ahead. pic.twitter.com/pTHIBtPikn
Salernitana thought it had equalized almost immediately when Mateusz Legowksi pounced on a Lautaro giveaway in midfield for what would have been his first Serie A goal, but VAR saved the Nerazzurri as the Pole was a step offside. Lautaro, meanwhile, continued to cause problems and was in on goal in the 69th minute only to be on the receiving end of a rugby tackle from Norbert Gyomber, who somehow escaped with just a yellow. Lautaro wasn’t to be denied from his brace for much longer, however, and made it 2-0 in the 77th, blasting a half-volley home from a Barella cross.
He’d get his hattrick in the 84th minute, burying a penalty down the middle after Thuram was taken down in the box.
Hat trick hero! ⚽⚽⚽— CBS Sports Golazo ⚽️ (@CBSSportsGolazo) September 30, 2023
Lautaro Martínez makes no mistake from 12 yards out. Inter in cruise control! pic.twitter.com/u11BMjiCMm
And yet, Lautaro still wasn’t finished. Inter’s number 10 bagged a fourth for the first time in his career in the 89th minute, turning home a Carlos Augusto cross first-time.
Simply unplayable!— CBS Sports Golazo ⚽️ (@CBSSportsGolazo) September 30, 2023
Lautaro Martínez bags his FOURTH of the night to extend his lead in the Capocannoniere race with his 9th goal of the season. pic.twitter.com/KpB1RIUBIQ
The final whistle would blow before he had time to do more damage, but my word, what a performance. Inter needed a moment of magic and they got four, all from one man.
Sommer - 6.5: Got the shutout and made 3 saves to earn it, although he barely had anything to do in the second half.
Acerbi - 6: Wasn’t completely comfortable as a left center back, but fared reasonably well with 4 accurate long balls, 2 duels won, and 3 interceptions to his name,
de Vrij - 6.5: Was quite solid, not showing much of a weakness all night and adding on 2 clearances, 3 duels won, 2 blocked shots, and 1 interception.
Pavard - 8: His best game yet. Led Inter in touches (102), and accurate passes (77), had 4 accurate long balls, won 8 duels, and managed 3 clearances, 2 blocked shots, 1 interception, and 3 tackles.
Augusto - 7: Assisted the 4th, notched 3 key passes, 2 accurate long balls, won 6 duels, and made 2 clearances in quite the well-rounded showing from the ex-Monza man.
Klaassen - 5: Did not show much in his starting debut, managing 26 touches (the fewest of any starter) and a 70% passing rate. Managed to win 5 duels from 5 and notched 1 key pass, but other than that, it was a night to forget for the Dutchman.
Calhanoglu - 5: Seemed off the pace from the word go and an early yellow for a rough tackle didn’t help. Had just an 87% passing rate, a team-high 13 giveaways, 0 key passes, and 5 of 7 duels lost before an early exit before the hour mark.
Barella - 6.5: Opened his goal contribution account for the season with the assist on the second first goal via a pin-point cross, but didn’t look good otherwise, with an 87% passing rate and 12 giveaways, which unfortunately has become all too common of an occurrence this season.
Dumfries - 7: Continued his solid form and was one of Inter’s only decent performers in the first half. Helped create Inter’s 2nd of the night as well, won 6 duels, and made 2 key passes.
Sanchez - 5: Wasn’t horrible on the stat sheet, notching 3 successful dribbles, 6 duels won, and 2 key passes. The Chilean came up lacking in the moments that mattered in front of goal with some horrible finishing and didn’t seem to connect very well with the rest of Inter.
Thuram - 6.5: Caused Salernitana problems all night, winning a team-high 9 duels. Could have had at least another penalty with a less lenient referee as well.
Lautaro - 10 (Man of the Match): If this isn’t a perfect ten out of ten, then I don’t think anything can be. Leads the Serie A scoring charts by 3 goals over Victor Osimhen as well, with 8 total strikes.
Inzaghi - 6.5: The team didn’t play well, once again struggling against a deep block with no space in behind. It’s up to Inzaghi to come up with solutions for that as it’s surely a tactic we’ll be seeing a lot more of. For now, though, why worry about tactics when you can just give Lautaro the ball and let him do the rest? It was also good to see Lucien Agoume’s debut and hopefully, the Frenchman’s solid cameo (5/5 accurate passes and a key role in the build-up to the 4th) can lead to more opportunities.
Inter remains level with Milan for 1st on 18 points, 4 clear of Napoli in third. Up next for the Nerazzurri is a home clash with Benfica on Tuesday in the Champions League, barely giving Lautaro time to watch his highlights from today before heading back into action.