Before being sent off in a dramatic first Inter start, Alexis Sanchez scored as his side fought for a 3-1 win over Sampdoria.
Conte’s Inter made it six victories out of six in Series A, making sure they kept the two-point lead over Juventus at the top of the table they held at the beginning of Saturday.
Two goals in the space of 128 first-half seconds from Stefano Sensi and Sanchez had Antonio Conte’s men on course for a dominant victory in response to Juve’s earlier win over SPAL.
Early in the second half, Sanchez received a second yellow for diving and there was a brief alarm for 10-man Inter after a strike from Samp’s Jakub Jankto, but Roberto Gagliardini wrapped up the points.
After a scrappy opening 20 minutes, Inter scored two goals in rapid succession.
First, in-form Sensi fired in an effort from 30 yards which struck Sanchez on the back and deflected past Emil Audero in the Sampdoria goal.
Then, on Inter’s next attack, another Sensi strike that was hit less cleanly was latched on to by an opportunistic Sanchez, who knew more about this one as he pounced to slot in from inside the six-yard box.
Antonio Candreva’s goal from a Sanchez chipped pass was ruled out for offside before Lautaro Martinez fired wide from one good chance and struck another straight at the keeper.
Audero denied Sensi as Inter finished in full control of the first half but the match took 54 seconds after restarting a dramatic twist. When a shot of Martinez was saved, Sanchez dropped under pressure from Julian Chabot, who seemed to come back from the challenge.
That immediately earned Sanchez a second booking – his first having come just before the break for a foul on Albin Ekdal.
Samp’s first shot on target got them back into the match, Jankto collecting a pass from Karol Linetty before turning and finding the bottom corner with an angled left-footed strike – his first league goal for the club.
But just after the hour mark – six minutes after Jankto’s strike – weak goalkeeping from Audero meant Marcelo Brozovic’s over-hit pass was eventually parried into the path of Gagliardini to tap in.
Romelu Lukaku, Danilo D’Ambrosio and Nicolo Barella – who all came on after Jankto’s goal – were rested by Conte along with Diego Godin ahead of a crucial week that sees Inter take on Barcelona and Juve in their two main competitions.
Sanchez’s dramatic debut was the interesting talking point here, but the bigger picture is Inter’s magnificent start domestically and another confident performance in a game they dominated despite playing half of it with 10 men.
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Sensi already looks like one of the signings of the season. He continued his fine form here and ended with a stat line that read one goal, one assist and two key passes.
The midfielder also had another shot well saved just before the break and Conte took no risks with the match safe at 3-1 with 25 minutes to go, bringing Sensi off to keep him fresh for the key week ahead.
Martinez has impressed with his all-round play this season, but with Lukaku and Sanchez among the attacking options of Inter, he will want to improve his goal scoring rate to remain a prominent part of the plans of Conte.
He had three great chances in this game, but he couldn’t cover up any of them, Audero denying him twice as he fired another effort. Undoubtedly, Martinez is an extremely promising player, but in 33 games, seven Series A goals are a record that needs to improve.