Lukaku penalty keeps Inter's title hopes alive with Roma draw

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Romelu Lukaku came off the bench to keep Inter’s slim Serie A title hopes alive as his late penalty secured a 2-2 draw with Roma.

Antonio Conte's men could have closed the gap on leaders Juventus to three points with victory at Stadio Olimpico but instead had to settle for a draw, which came courtesy of Lukaku's spot-kick following Leonardo Spinazzola's clumsy challenge on Victor Moses.

Inter had earlier squandered an early lead given to them by Stefan de Vrij's 15th-minute header –  a Serie A record 500th goal scored in this fixture – as Spinazzola and Henrikh Mkhitaryan turned the game on its head with goals either side of half-time.

However, Inter were handed a reprieve when Spinazzola recklessly kicked out at Moses four minutes from time – Lukaku keeping his composure to salvage a point.

Gianluca Mancini missed an opportunity to open the scoring early on, and Roma were punished when de Vrij got away from Aleksandar Kolarov to head in Alexis Sanchez's corner.

But with Marcelo Brozovic squandering a chance to double Inter's lead, Spinazzola drilled in an equaliser in first-half stoppage time – the goal allowed to stand after a VAR check for Kolarov's nudge on Lautaro Martinez in the build-up.

A pivotal three-minute spell shortly before the hour saw the game swing in Roma's favour as Martinez's strike was ruled out for offside, with Mkhitaryan then profiting from slack defending to hit home from six yards.

As Inter's hopes of keeping the pressure on Juve faded, Conte turned to Moses and Lukaku from the bench and they proved to be inspired changes – the latter scoring from the spot after his fellow substitute was fouled by Spinazzola.

What does it mean? Inter fail to capitalise on Juve's slip-ups 

Juventus have drawn two and lost one of their last three matches, opening the door for Inter to pounce in their pursuit of a first Scudetto since 2010.

However, a third win in a row eluded them and in the end they were fortunate to claim a point, meaning Juve can now open up an eight-point gap at the summit with four matches to go if they beat Lazio in Tuesday's (AEST) game in hand.

Lukaku the saviour for Inter

Sanchez tried his best to carry Inter's attack, the on-loan forward registering his seventh assist since last month's restart for De Vrij's opener – only Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi has managed more in Europe's top five leagues - but the visitors struggled to get going from that point on and in the end they needed Lukaku to rescue a result.

Spinazzola's moment of madness

Even with Lukaku on, Inter looked devoid of ideas, but they were gifted a penalty thanks to Spinazzola's comical defending. The Roma wing-back failed to control the ball with a bad first touch and then caught Moses on the leg when attempting to hoof it clear.

What's next?

Roma return to action with a trip to already-relegated SPAL on Thursday, the same day that Inter host mid-table Fiorentina in their penultimate home game of the campaign.

Source Omnisport