Inter Milan kicked off their Italian title defense by driving 4-0 past Genoa on Saturday in an encouraging performance by the champions after a turbulent season.
Simone Inzaghi’s side had a two-goal lead after 13 minutes thanks to Milan Skriniar and Hakan Calhanoglu, before the attacks of Arturo Vidal and Edin Dzeko in the second half completed defeat in front of just over 27,000 spectators in the San Siro as the crowd watched returned to the stadiums in Italy.
“We worked hard on today, we started well and won,” said the impressive Calhanoglu, who also provided the cross for Skriniar’s goal.
“It’s easy to play with teammates who have that quality, you know how they’re going to move and today we played really well together. We want to continue that way.”
The Italian government has authorized the site to open to 50 percent of capacity and although the crowd on Saturday was somewhat less than the nearly 38,000 seats available at the San Siro, the roar of the stands brought some joy back to the ‘Nerazzurri’. after a rough summer.
Financial difficulties led to the departure of coach Antonio Conte and the sale of star players Romelu Lukaku and Achraf Hakimi, but under new boss Inzaghi they played as if their problems were over.
Skriniar opened the scoring five minutes into the new season with a thumping header from a corner from Calhanoglu, who eight minutes later doubled Inter’s lead by pulling in a long-range attack after exchanging passes with fellow newcomer Dzeko.
Bosnian forward Dzeko was excellent up front and was denied a debut goal when his deflected shot slipped off the crossbar in the 24th minute as Inter dominated.
The hosts also had two goals offside at halftime, with Ivan Perisic and Calhanoglu – who came from local rivals AC Milan to replace Christian Eriksen while he was recovering from cardiac arrest at Euro 2020 – both denied.
Vidal scored the points in the 74th minute when he netted the third after clever work by Nicolo Barella to set up the Chilean after Dzeko’s curling shot was well saved by Genoa stopper Salvatore Sirigu.
A lovely warm evening in Milan was made even better for the home fans as Lukaku’s replacement Dzeko rounded off the score by meeting Vidal’s deep cross with a thumping header to score his first goal in Inter colours.
CEO Giuseppe Marotta told broadcaster DAZN before the game that Inter would nevertheless bring in a new striker, but both he and Inzaghi remained coy about who the new signing would be.
But as DAZN reporters in Milan tried to get a name out of Inzaghi after his first win as Inter coach, Lazio director Igli Tare revealed to Sky Sport Italia that Argentinian Joaquin Correa wanted to join Inter.
“We know Correa wants to leave Lazio, there is a chance he will go to Inter, but let’s see what happens,” Tare said.
Correa wasn’t even on the Lazio bench for Maurizio Sarri’s first league game in charge of the Roman club at Empoli, one of Saturday’s late games, along with Atalanta’s trip to Turin.
In the other early game, Sassuolo won an entertaining match at 10-man Verona 3-2.