‘Diamond in the rough’ Lukaku saves Inter again vs Genoa

ROME (AP) — When Antonio Conte returned to Italy after two seasons coaching Chelsea, it wasn’t just English Premier League and FA Cup trophies he brought home.

Conte also collected a wealth of scouting knowledge from England and a big affinity for Romelu Lukaku, whom he brought to Inter Milan in a club-record 80 million euro ($95 million) transfer last year.

On Saturday in Serie A, the former Everton and Manchester United striker again came to the Nerazzurri’s rescue in beating Genoa 2-0.

“I always thought that Romelu was a diamond in the rough and that’s why I asked for him very loudly,” Conte said.

Lukaku broke the deadlock after the hour mark with his seventh goal in six matches across all competitions. Danilo D’Ambrosio headed in another for the visitors.

Excluding penalties, Lukaku has more goals — 22 — than any other foreigner in Serie A since he arrived last season.

“Romelu is a different player from a year ago,” Conte said. “You can see just by the way he receives the ball, the way he moves — everything has improved.”

Lukaku also scored twice — including a last-minute equalizer — in a 2-2 draw at home with Borussia Mönchengladbach in the Champions League on Wednesday.

This time, Lukaku’s goal came after he traded passes with Nicolò Barella and fired into the far corner.

In the first half, Inter failed to produce a single shot on goal.

Inter was in desperate need of a win after losing the derby to AC Milan 2-1 last weekend, when Lukaku had the Nerazzurri’s only goal.

A Europa League finalist two months ago, Inter moved within two points of Milan, which leads Serie A by one point.

Genoa is still recovering after more than 20 players and staff members tested positive for the coronavirus this month.

SURPRISING SAMPDORIA

Samdoria won its third straight by beating Atalanta 3-1 with goals from Fabio Quagliarella, Morten Thorsby and Jakub Jankto.

Duvan Zapata scored a penalty for Atalanta to momentarily make it 2-1.

RECORD SEEKING

Ciro Immobile moved into second place on Lazio’s list of all-time scorers with his 128th for the club across all competitions.

Immobile headed in the second in a 2-1 win over Bologna as the Roman club backed up its Champions League victory over Borussia Dortmund.

Silvio Piola holds the Lazio record with 149 goals.

Luis Alberto got the first goal by concluding a solo effort with a shot from the center of the area after Bologna gave up possession near midfield.

Lorenzo De Silvestri pulled one back for Bologna in stoppage time.

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