Romelu Lukaku on Tuesday scored after just 21 seconds as he bagged a brace in a 4-1 thumping of Cagliari that fired Inter into the last eight of the Coppa Italia, while SS Lazio and SSC Napoli are set for a quarter-final clash after easing past second-tier opposition.
Belgian Lukaku has looked a player reborn since moving to Italy and his double took his hot streak to six goals in his past four appearances in all competitions, with his Serie A tally standing at 14 in 19 games.
The 26-year-old lashed home his opener with the match barely underway and then, after Borja Valero had made it 2-0 in the 22nd minute, headed home his side’s third from Nicolo Barella’s corner just three minutes after the break as Antonio Conte’s side ran riot at the San Siro.
There were nerves among the home fans when Christian Oliva pulled one back for the Sardinians in the 73rd minute with a fierce drive, but Andrea Ranocchia headed in Cristiano Biraghi’s corner to seal the win.
The victory helped Inter bounce back after letting Juventus take top spot in Serie A with a 1-1 home draw with Atalanta BC over the weekend, and the return of Alexis Sanchez after an injury layoff will also boost Conte.
Inter are to face either Atalanta or ACF Fiorentina in the next round. They are to be joined in the quarters by Lazio and Napoli, who both cruised through with comfortable wins over second-tier sides US Cremonese and AC Perugia to set up a mouth-watering last-eight tie with each other.
Holders Lazio, who are on a club-record run of 10 straight wins in Serie A and well in the title discussion, made short work of Cremonese in their easy 4-0 victory in Rome.
The hosts were ahead in less than 10 minutes in front of a sparse crowd at the Stadio Olimpico thanks to Patric, who tapped home the opener after Cremonese goalkeeper Michael Agazzi palmed the ball to him in the box, and the tie was done 16 minutes later when Marco Parolo bundled home the second from a Jony cross.
Simone Inzaghi made eight changes from the side that beat Napoli 1-0 over the weekend, but kept Saturday’s goal-scorer Ciro Immobile, who took his tally to 23 in all competitions from the penalty spot 12 minutes after the break.
Impressive Jony turned provider again for the goal that rounded off the scoring, his fizzing cross from a set-piece being met with Bastos’ bullet header in the final minute.
Meanwhile, troubled Napoli are languishing in 11th in Serie A after winning just one league game since the middle of October last year, but eased into the quarters with a 2-0 win over Perugia thanks to two Lorenzo Insigne penalties.
Insigne struck the opening goal from the spot on 26 minutes after Mexico’s Hirving Lozano went down inside the area under a challenge from Mardochee Nzita.
The Italy international added a second when Pietro Iemmello handled at a corner, with a penalty awarded following a video assistant referee (VAR) review.
Napoli goalkeeper David Ospina, whose blunder proved costly in their league loss at Lazio, then saved an Iemmello penalty before halftime following another VAR intervention.
Japanese couple Rikiya and Ayumi Kataoka had their honeymoon wrecked by the COVID-19 pandemic, but their resourcefulness in enforced exile in Cape Verde has won them appointments as ambassadors for its Olympic team. The Kataokas had completed a third of their round-the-world trip when a suspension in long-haul flights stranded them for five months in the archipelago of 10 tiny islands off the coast of West Africa. Unable to resume their journey to Europe and then home to Japan, and unwilling to head to the African mainland, where virus cases are spiking, they had to trade their skills with domestic businesses to
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