HT: Benevento gift Inter opener

Inter have the 1-0 half-time lead thanks to a Riccardo Improta own goal, but Benevento had penalty appeals and Lautaro Martinez missed two big chances.

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The Nerazzurri were fresh from a dramatic 2-1 Coppa Italia win over 10-man Milan, with the semi-final coming up against Juventus on Tuesday. Romelu Lukaku and Achraf Hakimi are suspended for the first leg, so they are able to start regardless, while Alexis Sanchez spent the last few days in negotiations for a possible move to Roma. Marco Sau sat out a ban for Benevento, with Christian Maggio, Alessandro Tuia, Gaetano Letizia and Gabriele Moncini injured.

Antonio Conte started his two-game touchline ban for repeatedly insulting the referee during their 0-0 draw with Udinese.

Inter took the lead with their first chance, as Christian Eriksen’s free kick took a massive deflection off Riccardo Improta to loop up into the far top corner.

Gianluca Lapadula had strong penalty appeals on 11 minutes, as Andrea Ranocchia bundled into him in what was at best a clumsy challenge, but the referee waved play on. VAR also could not intervene, because the contact seemed to begin outside the box and they fell inside.

Eriksen floated a ball to the back post, where Hakimi couldn’t quite get a clean header to it, as he mistimed the run. Lautaro Martinez then wasted a big chance, as he completed the give and go with Nicolò Barella only to then fire over the bar.

Another Barella counter-attack wasn’t finished by Lautaro Martinez, who took one too many touches and lost the ball. There was also another reason to call on the VAR booth, as Luca Caldirola’s sliding tackle caught Lautaro on the ankle millimetres outside the box.

Inter 1-0 Benevento (Half-Time)

Improta og 7 (I)

Inter: Handanovic; Skriniar, Ranocchia, Bastoni; Hakimi, Barella, Eriksen, Gagliardini, Perisic; Lautaro Martinez, Lukaku

Benevento: Montipò; Glik, Caldirola, Barba; Depaoli, Hetemaj, Viola, Ionita, Improta; Caprari, Lapadula

Ref: Pasqua