(Reuters) – Inter Milan moved above Juventus to the top of the Serie A table with a 2-1 win at home to SPAL on Sunday, thanks to a Lautaro Martinez double.
The Argentina international struck with a low finish into the corner and headed in his second goal before halftime to take his tally for the season to 13 in all competitions.
SPAL pulled one back in the second half through a moment of individual brilliance from Mattia Valoti, but Inter hung on to take advantage of Juventus dropping points by drawing 2-2 against Sassuolo earlier in the day.
It was Inter’s 12th win in their first 14 games of the season, setting a club record as their best-ever start to a campaign.
Antonio Conte’s side are now one point ahead of Juve on 37, while SPAL remain second from bottom and without a win in their past seven matches.
“We’ve been working since day one to make an impact and annoy the other teams,” Conte told Sky Italia.
“Being back on top of the table after 14 rounds makes us proud because we know the journey we’ve been through to get here.
“At the same time, it should give us positive enthusiasm, push us to do even better and control the game without suffering to the end the way we did today, because in those circumstances a cross or deflected shot can change everything.”
Martinez was the hero for Inter last Wednesday when he scored twice in a crucial 3-1 Champions League win at Slavia Prague, and the striker needed just 16 minutes to make his mark against SPAL.
Inter won the ball in midfield and Martinez led a quick counter before arrowing a low finish into the bottom corner from outside the box.
He added his second goal of the game shortly before the break, rising to head Antonio Candreva’s cross beyond goalkeeper Etrit Berisha and give his side a comfortable advantage.
The visitors reduced the deficit five minutes into the second half when Valoti dribbled past three defenders and showed the composure to find the corner with his finish.
Inter had a glorious chance to restore their two-goal advantage when Martinez was sent clean through on goal, but Berisha made a well-timed challenge on the striker as he tried to round the goalkeeper and notch up a hat-trick.
(Reporting by Alasdair Mackenzie; Editing by David Goodman and Clare Fallon)