Denzel Dumfries scored a dramatic 95th-minute winner as Inter began their Serie A campaign with a hard-fought 2-1 win over Lecce, with Romelu Lukaku also scoring on his Nerazzurri return.
Lukaku required just 82 seconds to head home the opener on his second Inter debut, but Simone Inzaghi's side looked set to make a stuttering start when Assan Ceesay levelled three minutes after the break.
But substitute Dumfries was on hand to convert from a corner deep into stoppage time as Inter made a winning start to the new campaign.
Having watched champions Milan beat Udinese in their own season-opener early on Saturday, Inter ensured they matched their rivals' exploits at the outset of what is likely to be another thrilling title race.
Lukaku, who scored 24 Serie A goals as Inter won the Scudetto in 2020-21, wasted little time in getting on the scoresheet on his Nerazzurri return when he nodded home following Matteo Darmian's smart knock-down.
Hakan Calhanoglu then tested Wladimiro Falcone with a dipping strike as Inter pinned Lecce back, but the visitors failed to add a second goal despite bossing the first half.
And they were punished for their wastefulness when Ceesay converted into the bottom-right corner after latching onto Federico Di Francesco's clever pass three minutes after the break.
Falcone made a sharp save from Federico Dimarco's fierce volley as Inter pushed for a winner, with Dumfries going agonisingly close when he headed against the inside of the post with 20 minutes left.
Lukaku was then denied by a reflex stop from Falcone as the Nerazzurri continued to pour players forward, and the hosts' resistance was finally broken deep into stoppage time when Dumfries bundled Lautaro Martinez's header across the line to break Lecce hearts.
What does it mean? Another fast start for the Nerazzurri
Inter missed out to rivals Milan in the Serie A title race last season, and will have been aware of the importance of a fast start after several of their biggest rivals strengthened during the transfer window.
Inter's dramatic win means they have now started four consecutive Serie A seasons with a victory. They last had a longer such run when kicking off with a win in five successive campaigns between 1993 and 1997.
Dumfries decisive for Inter
Dumfries' sixth Serie A goal was undoubtedly one of his most important, as he raced onto Martinez's flick-on to divert the ball home 92 minutes and 40 seconds after Inter had opened the scoring.
The strike was the first Dumfries has recorded in the competition as a substitute, and will have done no harm to his chances of edging ahead of Darmian in the pecking order at right wing-back.
Lukaku off to a flyer
Lukaku's very first Serie A goal came 60 minutes into his Inter debut against Lecce in August 2019, a 4-0 win for the Nerazzurri in Antonio Conte's first match at the helm, but he was even quicker off the mark against the same opponents this time around.
The Belgian's strike was the fastest scored on matchday one in Serie A since Udinese's Dusan Basta netted after the same amount of time in 2011, also against Lecce.
Key Opta Facts
- Inter have won their opening game for the last four seasons in a row, last winning five on the bounce from the start in 1997.
- Lecce have lost each of their last six Serie A opening games, conceding at least two goals in each of those games.
- Courtesy of Romelu Lukaku, Inter scored the fastest goal (82 seconds) in their opening game of a Serie A season in the last 60 years.
- Lecce fielded their youngest starting eleven in a Serie A game (24 years, 315 days) since in 2006 against Chievo (24 years and 59 day).
Inter face Spezia in their first home outing of the new campaign on Saturday, while Lecce go to Sassuolo on the same day.