​Romelu Lukaku bagged a second-half brace as Inter overcame Udinese 2-0 at the Stadio Friuli on Sunday night, moving back up to second in Serie A.


The visitors certainly started the game the brighter, with Christian Eriksen having his fierce left-footed drive saved by Juan Musso, but the hosts gradually grew into proceedings off the back of a stout defensive effort early on.


After Rodrigo De Paul forced Daniele Padelli into his first save of the game, Matias Vecino spurned the Nerazzurri's best opportunity of the first half - the Uruguayan only being able to guide Victor Moses' drilled cross hopelessly wide, however.

Romelu Lukaku

A frantic end to the opening period certainly carried over at the start of the second half as Sebastiano Esposito spurned a golden opportunity to give Inter the lead almost immediately after the restart.


With the game opening up right around the hour mark, Inter immediately benefitted, breaking the deadlock through Romelu Lukaku. The Belgian smartly using Bram Nuytinck as an obstruction to beat Musso from inside the area.


After Lukaku was denied brilliantly from close range by Musso for his second, substitute Alexis Sanchez ensured his former Man Utd teammate had another chance to bag his second of the game. The Chilean was brought down by the Udinese shot-stopper inside the box after breaking in behind the hosts' backline in fortuitous fashion. Lukaku made no mistake from 12 yards to double the Nerazzurri lead.


Striker Kevin Lasagna saw two efforts drift wide amid a late Udinese resurgence, but the visitors held on for their first league victory since 6 January.


UDINESE


Player Ratings


Starting XI: Musso (7); Becao (8), De Maio (7), Nuytinck (7); Larsen (6), De Paul (5), Mandragora (6), Fofana (8), Sema (7); Lasagna (6); Okaka (5)


Subs: Zeegalaar (6), Jajalo (6), Teodorczyk (5)


INTER 


Key Talking Point

Antonio Conte

Another day, another game of two halves for Antonio Conte's Inter.


After an uninspiring first-half display - which saw them struggle yet again to penetrate and break down a deep block -  the introductions of Marcelo Brozovic and especially Sanchez on the hour mark galvanised the hosts. The Nerazzurri capitalised on a more enterprising Udinese side in the second period - with the likes of Nicolo Barella and Sanchez enjoying greater space between the lines while Lukaku started to link-up play to great effect.


The hosts ensured that Inter were tested defensively, but Inter's underrated back three defended stoutly throughout - helping league debutant Padelli to a rather quiet afternoon.


Overall, Conte will be thrilled with the three points and he'll be hoping this side can carry the momentum from their second-half display into a season-defining run of fixtures.


Player Ratings


Starting XI: Padelli (6); Skriniar (7), De Vrij (8), Bastoni (7); Moses (6), Vecino (6), Barella (6); Eriksen (5); Lukaku (8), Espositio (4)


Subs: Sanchez (8*), Brozovic (7), D'Ambrosio (6)


Star Man: Alexis Sanchez 


After a woeful display last time out against Fiorentina, Alexis bounced back in tremendous fashion with a game-changing performance on Sunday night.


Playing just off Lukaku, the Chilean was able to link-up with the Belgian in a similar fashion to how the suspended Lautaro Martinez so often does.


The Inter loanee was a constant menace between the lines and was superb out of possession - with his determination and work-rate helping him win a penalty for Inter's second.  


Looking Ahead


It's a huge couple of weeks for Inter. After hosting Milan in the derby next Sunday, Conte's men take on Napoli in the first leg of the Coppa Italia semi-finals before travelling to Lazio in two weeks time. 


Udinese, meanwhile, host the lowly Brescia in Serie A next weekend.