Lautaro Martinez fires Inter to Italian Super Cup glory

Lautaro Martinez shot Inter Milan to a third straight Italian Super Cup after netting in the final moments of Monday’s 1-0 win over furious Napoli in Riyadh.

Argentina striker Martinez swept home Benjamin Pavard’s low cross in the first minute of stoppage time at Al-Awwal Park, seeing off Napoli who played the final half-hour with 10 men after Giovanni Simeone was sent off for two bookable offences.

The 26-year-old’s winner was his 21st goal in all competitions this season for Inter, who lost their Serie A lead to Juventus while in Saudi Arabia for the four-team tournament.And he whipped his shirt off in celebration after drawing level with Christian Vieri at ninth place in Inter’s all-time goalscoring charts, with 123 strikes since arriving in 2018.

“The emotion took over and I couldn’t think,” Martinez told Mediaset. It was a unique moment, I scored my 100th goal in the Italian Cup Final and my 123rd goal in the Super Cup, allowing me to match a legend like Christian Vieri.”

This year’s edition was the first to be played in four-team format, but failed to capture the imagination of the Saudi public. Organisers were also embarrassed by a portion of the crowd, reportedly the locals and not travelling Italians, whistling the quickly-arranged minute’s silence for deceased former Italy striker Gigi Riva before the start of the second half.

Riva, who died on Monday evening, is Italy’s top scorer with 35 goals in 42 appearances and shot Cagliari to their only league title in 1970.

Martinez’s goal gave Inter coach Simone Inzaghi a record-breaking fifth Super Cup win in his career after winning it for the third successive year.

Inzaghi overtakes Fabio Capello and Marcello Lippi, two icons of Italian coaching, for Super Cup wins. The 47-year-old also won it twice while managing Lazio, in 2017 and 2019.

His victory made Inter the second team to complete the hat-trick after local rivals AC Milan’s string of three victories between 1992 and 1994.

Inter captain Martinez and the rest of the team took the trophy to the stands where a group fans had travelled from Italy, handing it to supporters as they cheered in victory.

However Napoli coach Walter Mazzarri played no part in the trophy ceremony as he was livid at the sending off of striker Simeone, who is deputising for Victor Osimhen while he represents Nigeria in the Africa Cup of Nations.

Simeone was dismissed by Gianluca Rocchi in the 60th minute after stepping on Francesco Acerbi’s foot moments after picking up his first booking for clattering into Hakan Calhanoglu. Mazzarri screamed “disgrace, disgrace” at officials before storming off down the tunnel and refusing to speak to media.

“The poor quality of referees this season… is there for all to see. I sat with Rocchi before the game and wondered what huge embarrassment he would have to deal with next,” said Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis. Simeone will be suspended for Sunday’s trip to Lazio, with the Italian champions sat in ninth place in Serie A.

Source: eNCA

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