Inter Milan have accounted for visitors Lazio 3-1 to leapfrog AC Milan at the top of the Serie A before meeting them in next weekend’s city derby.
Romelu Lukaku had a hand in all of Inter’s goals, converting a spot kick and striking again by halftime, to help the Nerazzurri go one point clear of the Rossoneri.
The Belgium international striker went level on 16 goals with Juventus superstar Cristiano Ronaldo at the top of the league scorers’ chart.
Lukaku fed Lautaro Martinez when he was floored for the 22nd-minute penalty and pounced on an unlucky clearance to strike in the 45th.
He then was involved a devastating break to set up Martinez’s goal on 64 minutes, after Lazio’s Gonzalo Escalante deflected in a Sergej Milinkovic-Savic free kick.
“Lazio are a good team with good results and we knew what kind of game awaited us,” Inter defender Milan Skriniar said.
“We could have scored more and it was a pity to concede but it was an important result.
“We work to stay up there and we are happy about our standing. Beginning tomorrow we start preparing next weekend’s game.”
Lazio’s run of six straight wins came to an end and they sit seventh, level on points with fifth-place Napoli and sixth-place Atalanta, who won 1-0 at relegation-threatened Cagliari.
Meanwhile, Roma went above Juventus to third with Jordan Veretout scoring twice in their 3-0 defeat of visiting Udinese.
French midfielder Veretout nodded home and converted a penalty in the first half hour while substitute Pedro curled in the third in added time to end the Udine guests’ unbeaten run.
Atalanta substitute Luis Muriel netted his 13th goal of the campaign with the winner in the 90th minute at Cagliari.
Eighth-place Sassuolo won 2-1 at bottom side Crotone while Fiorentina are 16th after losing 2-1 to mid-table Sampdoria.