Romelu Lukaku shot Inter Milan to a 3-0 win over struggling Empoli on Sunday with his first Serie A goals from open play since the opening day of what has been a difficult return season in Italy.
Belgium striker Lukaku netted two fine low finishes in the second half at the Stadio Castellani to help Inter to their first win in Italy’s top flight since early March and move them above AC Milan into fifth, two points from the last Champions League place currently held by Roma.
He struck his first from the edge of the area two minutes after the break following a quick exchange of passes with Marcelo Brozovic and doubled Inter’s lead in the 76th minute by bursting past Ardian Ismajli and rifling home an angled drive.
The 29-year-old, who also laid on Lautaro Martinez’s late goal, took his league tally since returning to Inter on loan from Chelsea to just five with Sunday’s brace.
Lukaku has struggled with injuries for large chunks of the campaign, which started back in mid-August with a goal less than two minutes into Inter’s opening fixture at Lecce.
“This season has been a very complicated one,” Lukaku told Sky Sport.
“We’re doing good work with the trainers… it’s the first time that I’ve had such a serious injury, but now I feel more confident with those type of movements.”
Inter beat Empoli with a changed line-up from the one which secured a Milan derby Champions League semi-final on Wednesday.
They are also in a battle with their local rivals for qualification to next year’s edition of Europe’s top club competition.