Soccer-Martinez scores hat-trick as Inter hit six in thrashing of Crotone

·2-min read
Serie A - Inter Milan v Crotone

(Reuters) -Lautaro Martinez's first hat-trick for Inter Milan helped his side to crush Crotone 6-2 on Sunday as they took their eighth successive Serie A win to stay in touch with AC Milan at the top of the standings.

Inter briefly took top spot in the league, before local rivals AC Milan beat Benevento 2-0 to put themselves one point ahead.

Inter got off to a bad start when lowly Crotone took a shock 12th-minute lead through Niccolo Zanellato.

However, Romelu Lukaku sent strike partner Martinez through to level eight minutes later, before an own goal from Luca Marrone put Inter in front. A Vladimir Golemic penalty then levelled things up once again.

With the quality Inter possess up front, it was only a matter of time until they put Crotone to the sword in the second half, with Martinez brilliantly giving the home side the lead in the 57th minute before Lukaku added another goal seven minutes later.

Martinez completed his first Inter hat-trick 12 minutes from time, before Achraf Hakimi put the icing on the cake with a late sixth goal to put Inter on 36 points, six clear of Roma in third place.

Crotone dropped to bottom of the standings with just two league wins all season.

Inter had the opportunity to get a head start in the only early kick-off in the first round of Serie A matches after the winter break -- the first time in more than eight years that all 10 Serie A games were being played on a single Sunday.

But Antonio Conte's side struggled early on, and could have conceded more than Zanellato’s opener ahead of Lukaku's superb assist for Martinez which settled the hosts.

Even on this run of successive wins, Inter have often made life difficult for themselves, and sure enough a clumsy tackle from Arturo Vidal saw Inter again pegged back.

The link-up play between Martinez and Lukaku was too much for Crotone in the end, however, as Martinez helped himself to two more and Lukaku scored his 50th Inter goal in all competitions.

(Reporting by Peter Hall; Editing by Hugh Lawson and Clare Fallon)