Marcus Thuram earned revenge on Romelu Lukaku for Serie A’s top dogs Inter Milan with the decisive goal in Sunday’s 1-0 win over Roma, as Napoli came back from two goals down to draw 2-2 with AC Milan.
Inter lead Juventus by two points after Thuram guided home Federico Dimarco’s low cross with nine minutes remaining at a pulsating, shrieking San Siro where his World Cup-winning father Lilian was watching on.
France forward Thuram was charged with filling the shoes of Lukaku who enraged fans, his old teammates and the club hierarchy by the way he eyed moves away to Milan and third-placed Juve, whilst Inter tried to secure a permanent deal from Chelsea in the summer.
The 26-year-old is repaying the faith Simone Inzaghi has shown in him with five goals and as many assists in all competitions alongside Lukaku’s former strike partner Lautaro Martinez.
“I don’t think about those things, it was a league match,” said Thuram on his role in replacing Lukaku.
“We wanted to take three points and we did. I scored and I helped the team win. I’m happy about that and I’m not interested in anything else.”
Lukaku was given the promised hostile welcome from over 70,000 fans who consider him a traitor, with thousands of whistles making their way into the stadium despite police banning their distribution by Inter’s hardcore supporters.
Even one-time friend Martinez barely looked at him as the two teams shook hands pre-match and ferocious chants calling Lukaku a “shit of a man” and a “son of a bitch” were frequently belted out.
‘Special’ San Siro
Missing a host of starters and suspended coach Jose Mourinho, Roma tried but failed to hold off Inter and sit eighth on 14 points after creating just one chance all evening, Bryan Cristante forcing a fine save from Yann Sommer in the 64th minute.
Lukaku was barely involved and when he was he looked like the hostile atmosphere was affecting him.
Inter meanwhile hit the woodwork at either end of the match through Hakan Calhanoglu and Carlos Augusto and should have been ahead by the time Dimarco finally found Thuram, who made no mistake and set off a wave of noise which reverberated around the San Siro.
And soon afterwards the whistles aimed at Lukaku gave way to the celebrations between players and joyous fans who hailed a team that look clear favourites to beat Milan to a 20th league title.
“Every match at the San Siro is special,” added Thuram.
“Tonight the atmosphere was amazing, I’m really happy to be able to play here.”
Napoli fight back
Inter’s lead at the summit was extended to two points thanks to Napoli’s comeback in Naples, Matteo Politano and Giacomo Raspadori earning the hosts a point after trailing by two at half-time.
Rudi Garcia’s Napoli are seven points behind Inter in fourth while Milan trail their local rivals by three after a hugely entertaining match at the Stadio Maradona.
Milan looked set to bounce back from a fearful midweek thrashing at Paris Saint-Germain when Olivier Giroud’s headed brace put the away side two in front by the 31st minute.
Stefano Pioli’s side could easily have been leading by more at the half-time and Napoli, whose title defence has been unconvincing, were loudly booed off the field.
However Napoli came flying out of the traps at the start of the second half and Politano made up for a horrendous miss in the opening period when in the 50th minute he skipped past debutant Marco Pellegrino and Theo Hernandez before smashing past Mike Maignan.
And after piling pressure on the Milan goal Raspadori brought the hosts level just after the hour mark with a superb free-kick which took full advantage of a poorly placed Milan wall.
The two teams both went for the win and after Napoli defender Natan was sent off late on Davide Calabria headed wide a great chance to snatch the win before Khvicha Kvaratskhelia forced a fine save from Maignan moments before the warm applause which greeted the final whistle.
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