Napoli captain Lorenzo Insigne insisted he is focused on playing amid growing speculation over his future as the Partenopei challenge for the Scudetto.

Insigne led the way with two successful penalties in Napoli's 3-0 win over Bologna on Thursday – a result that sent Luciano Spalletti's back to the Serie A summit ahead of Milan on goal difference.

Napoli star Insigne has converted all four of his Serie A penalties this season – no other player has scored more among the players who found the net exclusively via spot-kicks in the top five European leagues.

Insigne also became the first Napoli player in Serie A to score a brace from the penalty spot since Dries Mertens in September 2017.

Afterwards, Insigne was asked about his contract situation, with the Italy international and Euro 2020 winner due to become a free agent at the end of the season.

"You always think about the same thing," Insigne – who emerged from the youth team of boyhood club Napoli in 2010 – told Sky Sport Italia amid links with Inter and Milan. "I only think about playing.

"The president [Aurelio De Laurentiis] and my agent take care of the other things."

Fabian Ruiz opened the scoring with a stunning long-range goal in the 18th minute – the Spain international has scored the most goals from outside the box in the top five European leagues in the last three seasons (nine since 2019-20) among the players who have not scored a goal from inside the box over this period.

Insigne then scored a penalty four minutes prior to half-time before converting another spot-kick just past the hour at home to Bologna.

Napoli have now collected 28 points after their first 10 Serie A games, equalling their best record at this stage of a top-flight season after 2017-18.

Eyeing their first Serie A title since 1990, Napoli have won all their first five seasonal home games for the seventh in the club's top-flight history.

"It's a great response, the championship is still long," Insigne said. "We know we are strong. Those who go on the pitch, those who enter off the bench…

"As the coach said, the five changes are even more important, they are five other starters. We must continue like this; the path is long and we must be calm."

Milan were made to work more than they expected after taking an early lead against short-handed Bologna on Saturday. 

After taking a 2-0 lead at the interval with Bologna down to 10 men, the Rossoneri had a second-half scare at the Stadio Renato Dall'Ara before prevailing 4-2. 

Stefano Pioli lamented his side's over-confidence heading into the break, with Milan fortunate to prevail after Ismael Bennacer and Zlatan Ibrahimovic netted late to secure the win. 

"We struggled because we mistakenly thought that the match, with two goals and one more man, was over," Pioli told Sky Sport Italia.

"Fortunately we have the qualities to take it back and we won an important match. Even in numerical superiority we have lacked clarity, we were too frantic. 

"With Ibra and [Olivier] Giroud ahead we made too many crosses, we had to play it more and move it more quickly. In the first 10 minutes of the second half we had to manage it better. 

"It is a very important victory. We know very well that the matches after the European commitments are difficult."

Coming off a 1-0 Champions League defeat to Porto on Tuesday, Milan went top of the table in Serie A with Saturday's triumph. 

Pioli said afterward that Ibrahimovic told him during the game he was "really tired" and indeed the talisman started the Bologna comeback with an own goal in the 49th minute. 

Musa Barrow equalised three minutes later before Bologna's momentum was blunted when Robert Soriano was given a straight red card in the 58th minute, leaving the home side with just nine men. 

Ibrahimovic played the full 90 minutes in starting his first league match of the season. His goal in the final minute capped the scoring. 

"We are showing that we always believe in it, that we never give up," Pioli said. "It is clear that there is a bit of tiredness because there are so many players missing and we play so many games, but it is the mentality that makes the difference and we want to win games until the end."

Milan moved to the Serie A summit as Ismael Bennacer and Zlatan Ibrahimovic struck late to hand them a pulsating 4-2 win over nine-man Bologna.

Rafael Leao and Davide Calabria scored either side of Adama Soumaoro's dismissal to give the Rossoneri a healthy advantage at the interval.

That was wiped out in the space of seven minutes at the start of the second period, however, with an Ibrahimovic own goal and a Musa Barrow strike restoring parity at the Stadio Renato Dall'Ara.

Bologna had a second man sent off before the hour mark, Roberto Soriano given a straight red card for a late challenge, and Stefano Pioli's Milan landed a memorable three points thanks to fine late strikes from Bennacer and Ibrahimovic.

Leao put Milan ahead in the 16th minute with a deflected strike, before Soumaoro was shown a red card for bringing down a clean-through Rade Krunic just outside the area four minutes later.

Milan took advantage of their numerical superiority in the 35th minute, Calabria lashing home a second from 15 yards.

The hosts stormed back at the start of the second period, though, with Ibrahimovic – making his first start since May 9 – heading into his own net four minutes after the interval to give Sinisa Mihajlovic's side hope.

Barrow then remarkably drew Bologna level in the 52nd minute, slotting past Ciprian Tatarusanu after being played in by Soriano.

Rossoblu captain Soriano was then given his marching orders after a VAR review six minutes later for an ugly challenge on Fode Ballo-Toure.

The hosts held firm until the 84th minute when Bennacer powered into the bottom-left corner from 20 yards, while Ibrahimovic added gloss to the scoreline with a whipped finish from the same distance six minutes later.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic could make his first start since May when Milan look to bounce back from more Champions League disappointment against Bologna.

Milan suffered their third successive defeat in the Champions League in midweek as they were beaten 1-0 by Porto.

They sit bottom of Group B, but results are going much better for Stefano Pioli's men in Serie A.

The Rossoneri are unbeaten domestically and sit second, two points behind leaders Napoli.

Ibrahimovic has played in only three games in all competitions and has not started since Milan's win over Juventus on May 9.

However, the 40-year-old could be in line to end that wait on Saturday, against a Bologna team sitting eighth in Serie A.

"Ibrahimovic needs to train and play," said Pioli ahead of the trip to Stadio Renato Dall'Ara.

"He's been training with the group for a week, but I still have to decide who will start between him and [Olivier] Giroud.

"I will decide the line-up tomorrow [Saturday] morning. Right now, we can't play with two strikers. When they feel well, they could play together."

Simone Inzaghi expressed his relief after Inter crushed Bologna 6-1 on Saturday to move top of Serie A. 

The Nerazzurri have now won 18 home successive league games but they did suffer late heartbreak at San Siro in the Champions League in midweek, going down to a late goal against Real Madrid. 

Inzaghi admitted that result left him concerned ahead of the visit of Bologna, though any such worries quickly subsided when Lautaro Martinez opened the scoring in the sixth minute. 

Substitute Edin Dzeko scored a second-half double as the reigning champions cut loose to make it three wins in a row against their opponents, a feat they had not managed when facing Bologna since Jose Mourinho was in charge.

"I was afraid of this match after the night against Real Madrid but the guys approached the match in the best way," Inzaghi told DAZN after the resounding triumph. 

"It was important, we knew the importance of the match. We came from an excellent performance with Madrid, in which only the result was missing. We asked the boys to put the anger that would be needed to win. 

"Today at the first opportunity we were good at unlocking it [the Bologna defence], it immediately went downhill even though we were facing a good team. Then it happens that you shoot 18 times against Real Madrid and you don't score a goal." 

Marcelo Brozovic was central to the team's performance against Bologna, completing the second-most passes in the game (61), two less than Nicolo Barella. 

And Inzaghi claimed there is a reason why the Croatia midfielder remains an integral part of Inter's side whoever is in charge, as well as praising forward Martinez. 

"Brozovic is irreplaceable, there will be a reason if he has played with all the coaches who have passed from Inter," the former Lazio head coach said. 

"I only knew him [Lautaro Martinez] as an opponent, I knew he was a very important player and when I was lucky enough to coach him I understood the importance. I'm sorry he couldn't score another goal."

Edin Dzeko scored twice as impressive Inter crushed Bologna 6-1 to move top of Serie A on Saturday. 

Lautaro Martinez's fourth goal in four top-flight games put Simone Inzaghi's side ahead, making it 23 consecutive league games that Inter have scored in, only managing a longer run way back in 1950. 

Milan Skriniar and Nicolo Barella inflicted further damage in the first half, with Matias Vecino and Dzeko's double completing the rout after the interval. 

Arthur Theate headed a late consolation goal for the visitors but Inter made it four league games unbeaten to sit at the summit, albeit their nearest rivals in the table are still to play. 

Martinez had gone five Serie A games without a goal against Bologna but ended that barren run when he ghosted in to poke home Denzel Dumfries' low delivery. 

Samir Handanovic kept his side's slender lead intact with a magnificent save to deny Roberto Soriano's drive, after which Nicola Sansone volleyed wide. 

Instead it was Inter who fired in a second, Skriniar towering above goalkeeper Lukasz Skorupski to nod in from inside the six-yard area following Federico Dimarco's inviting corner. 

Just four minutes later and Lorenzo De Silvestri's failed clearance fortuitously fell to Barella, who finished emphatically from close range. 

Martinez almost scored his second early in the second half but was denied by the crossbar, while he also wildly lashed over moments later. 

Vecino did manage to grab a fourth goal for his team with a simple tap-in at the back post after Dimarco's deflected cross had evaded the incoming Dumfries. 

Substitute Dzeko joined in on the act just after the hour-mark, prodding into the corner after Martinez's intelligent dummy before smashing his second into the roof of the net from a tight angle. 

Bologna did finally beat Handanovic when Theate nodded in at a corner, but that did not spoil what was a memorable victory for the hosts at San Siro. 

Arsenal have signed versatile defender Takehiro Tomiyasu from Bologna and allowed Hector Bellerin to join Real Betis on loan for the rest of the season.

The Gunners are reported to have paid Serie A side Bologna £17million (€19.8m) to land the Japan international on deadline day.

Tomiyasu, 22, had previously been linked with Tottenham but has instead joined their north London rivals on a long-term contract.

Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta told the club's official website: "Takehiro is a strong defender with good experience in Serie A and at international level.

"He's a versatile defender with great defensive qualities, high technical ability and composure on the ball.

"He will be an important member of our squad. We look forward to Takehiro joining up with us when he returns from international duty."

Long-serving full-back Bellerin has left the bottom side in the Premier League to return to his homeland with Betis.

The 26-year-old, who joined the London club a decade ago, won the FA Cup three times during his time with the Gunners.

Goalkeeper Alex Runarsson and midfielder Reiss Nelson also departed on loan for the rest of the season before the window closed, though Ainsley Maitland-Niles has remained at the club.

Transfer deadline day has already been a busy one, even if the biggest move of all was one that was expected.

Manchester United, Juventus and West Ham have all made moves, while changes are expected at Arsenal and Tottenham before the window closes.

There is also a good chance of a young France star joining Real Madrid – but it's not Kylian Mbappe.

Here is a round-up of some of the deadline-day deals, and what could be coming...

Ronaldo in, Cavani out?

The biggest deal of the day was concluded early, as Manchester United completed the signing of Cristiano Ronaldo from Juventus for an initial £12.9million (€15m).

The Portugal star dedicated his return to Old Trafford to Alex Ferguson after his two-year contract was announced by the Red Devils.

Ronaldo's arrival has complicated things for Edinson Cavani, though. The striker was convinced to spend another year at the club by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer after impressing last season, but his pre-season was disrupted due to personal reasons and he did not start any of United's first three league games of the season.

There are reports Barcelona are interested in signing Cavani as Ronald Koeman is desperate for another striker, but the Red Devils are expected to resist offers unless they are particularly lucrative. Of course, if Cavani does leave, it would free up the number seven shirt for Ronaldo.

United's business is mostly concluded but Dan James is expected to sign for Leeds United on deadline day for a reported £25m.

Real Madrid close to Camavinga

With Kylian Mbappe apparently not going to get his move in this window, Real Madrid have turned their attentions to Rennes midfielder Eduardo Camavinga, who is expected to sign for Carlo Ancelotti's side before the deadline.

With Mbappe staying put at Paris Saint-Germain for now, any dramatic late offer for Borussia Dortmund's Erling Haaland looks unlikely. BVB have in fact bolstered their squad, signing Marin Pongracic on loan from Wolfsburg.

Kean and Vlasic on the move

Juventus moved quickly to confirm Ronaldo's replacement, announcing a two-year loan with a potential obligation to buy for Everton striker Moise Kean. Kean returns to Turin for an initial €7m (£6m) after having left for the Toffees two years ago.

There was also video footage early on Tuesday of Junior Messias arriving for a medical at Milan, the 30-year-old apparently poised to sign on loan from Crotone.

Croatia international Nikola Vlasic has secured his move to West Ham from CSKA Moscow for a fee said to be worth £25m. His arrival would appear to cast doubt on any further bid from the Hammers for Jesse Lingard, who impressed on loan last season.

Brighton and Hove Albion have also been active, signing Getafe left-back Marc Cucurella – formerly of Barca – after the Seagulls matched his €18m (£15.5m) release clause.

Leicester City are said to be exploring the opportunity to bring in Ademola Lookman on loan from RB Leipzig, while Odsonne Eduoard is close to a move to Crystal Palace from Celtic.

Spurs and Arsenal still active – but will Chelsea spend again?

Tottenham are expected to complete a deal for Barca's Emerson Royal for around £25.8m (€30m). That sale could give Barca just a little leg room when it comes to pursuing the striker Koeman wants.

There are also likely to be changes at Arsenal. With Hector Bellerin tipped to sign for Real Betis on loan, the Gunners are said to be close to signing Takehiro Tomiyasu from Bologna.

Meanwhile, Reiss Nelson could be on the verge of a loan move to Feyenoord, who had agreed to sign Amad Diallo from Manchester United for the rest of the season until the winger suffered a thigh injury.

Chelsea have already spent huge money on Romelu Lukaku, but it remains to be seen whether a loan for Saul Niguez or a permanent deal for Jules Kounde could be concluded.

Jurgen Klopp says Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez will be involved for Liverpool when they play Bologna on Thursday.

The Reds step up their preparations for the forthcoming Premier League season with two 60-minutes matches against the Serie A side.

The central defensive duo made their long-awaited returns from injury against Hertha Berlin last time out, playing the final 21 minutes of the 4-3 defeat.

Van Dijk had not played since suffering an anterior cruciate ligament injury against Everton in October 2020, while Gomez played his first minutes since damaging a tendon in his left knee while on international duty with England the following month.

Klopp is pleased with the progress the pair are making and is confident they can get more minutes under their belts against Bologna.

"Hopefully, yes. That's how it looks in the moment," he told the official club website. "I want to make it really clear, we push nothing. 

"We know exactly how they feel – how they really feel and not what they tell us because they obviously are desperate to play again. 

"It looks good, this morning [it was a] normal training session. Sometimes in moments, we swap Virgil and Joe a little bit so maybe the intensity doesn't get too high, but in general it looks really good. 

"How many minutes on Thursday, I don't know but there will be some minutes for sure."

Klopp may also have Alisson, Fabinho and Roberto Firmino available for selection.

All three have returned from their extended break after helping Brazil reach the Copa America final, which they lost 1-0 to Argentina.

With Liverpool launching their Premier League campaign away at Norwich City on August 14, Klopp admits the returning trio's preparation time is far from ideal.

Nevertheless, the German said they could feature against Sinisa Mihajlovic's side, who finished 12th in Serie A last term.

"The players who play international football never have enough time; that was always like this," he added.

"You never have enough time to train and stuff like this – a week, two weeks before the season.

"[The Brazilian players] will start tomorrow with training properly with us.

"Maybe on Thursday in our two 60-minute games against Bologna, we can involve them already. I don't know yet – maybe 15, 20, 30 minutes. We have to see how they look exactly."

Kylian Mbappe understandably has a long list of admirers as speculation swirls over his Paris Saint-Germain future.

The 22-year-old's contract with PSG is due to expire in 2022 and Mbappe has previously hinted at his desire for a move.

He has been heavily linked with Real Madrid but one of the biggest clubs in England reportedly have their eye on the France international.

 

TOP STORY - LIVERPOOL'S AUDACIOUS MBAPPE ENQUIRY

Liverpool have entered the race to sign PSG forward Kylian Mbappe, claims Marca.

Marca reports that the Reds have enquired with PSG about Mbappe's availability.

The audacious move comes as Liverpool plan for a long-term future with Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane.

 

ROUND-UP

- Rennes' 18-year-old Eduardo Camavinga is on the radar of Manchester United, claims The Mail. Camavinga has already caught the eye of several top clubs.

- Manchester City are circling for Chelsea defender Reece James, with The Athletic reporting he is on their "wish list".

- Tottenham are homing in on a move for Bologna's Japanese defender Takehiro Tomiyasu, according to The Sun. It is understood the deal is worth £15million (€17.5m).

- With Jadon Sancho set to leave Borussia Dortmund for Manchester United, the German club are targeting PSV Eindhoven's Donyell Malen, claims The Mirror.

- Sport claims that AC Milan are close to agreeing a loan deal with Barcelona's Junior Firpo.

Andrea Pirlo expects to stay on as Juventus coach next season after guiding them to a top-four finish.

Juve beat Bologna 4-1 on Sunday, a victory that confirmed they will finish fourth in Serie A, a point ahead of Napoli after they could only draw 1-1 at home to Hellas Verona.

A win for Napoli would have left Juve out of the top four regardless of the Bianconeri's result, though Gennaro Gattuso's men were only ahead for a short while.

It was plain sailing throughout for Juve at Bologna, with Federico Chiesa opening the scoring early on to ensure he finished the season as the second youngest player after Marcus Rashford to record at least nine goals and assists across the top five European leagues this term.

Adrien Rabiot and Alvaro Morata, who got a brace, did the rest of the damage, with the Spaniard reaching the 20-goals mark across all competitions for the first time since 2016-17 as he deputised effectively for Cristiano Ronaldo.

It was Juve's 342nd and final game as reigning Serie A champions, a record, and although Pirlo was unable to continue their domination of Italy's top flight, he expects to be in charge again next term.

"I've always put in the maximum commitment, and this is the end result. Those who must decide [about my future] will do so," he told DAZN.

"I see myself in the Juve dugout next season. I would confirm it myself, but now we have to just enjoy what we have achieved.

"For me, it was important to finish the job: winning the Coppa Italia and qualifying for the Champions League. It was a very important goal."

There were conflicting rumours about the reasoning behind Ronaldo's absence, which was seen as curious given the importance of the game for Juve.

While some reports suggested Ronaldo made himself unavailable due to fatigue following the Coppa Italia final, others said it was Pirlo's decision, but the coach insisted they had agreed he would start on the bench.

"It was a joint decision," Pirlo said. "Ronaldo was tired after the match on Wednesday, so I opted to start Morata, who is another great player.

"Ronaldo was available. I've got a strong squad and I can pick many different players."

Nevertheless, Ronaldo finished the season as Serie A's most-prolific player with 29 goals, becoming the first player to achieve that feat in Italy's top flight, LaLiga and the Premier League.

Juventus have qualified for the Champions League on the final day of the Serie A season thanks to beating Bologna 4-1 and rivals Napoli only managing a draw at home to Hellas Verona.

Andrea Pirlo's men went into the weekend in danger of missing out on the Champions League for the first time since finishing seventh in 2010-11, but Verona did them a favour as they held on to a 1-1 draw in Naples, meaning Juve take fourth a point ahead of Napoli.

Juve certainly held up their end of the bargain, dismantling Bologna with consummate ease despite the absence of Cristiano Ronaldo, with Adrien Rabiot and Federico Chiesa adding to Alvaro Morata's brace to have them 4-0 up by the 47th minute.

Riccardo Orsolini's late consolation had little bearing – the Bianconeri just had to see what happened elsewhere with Milan also in the hunt with Juve and Napoli, the latter of whom eventually became the team to miss out on the top four.

Juve looked like a team on a mission and were in front within six minutes as Chiesa converted somewhat scrappily after Dejan Kulusevski had caused havoc down the right flank.

It took them a little while to double their advantage but the second goal did arrive with half an hour played, Paulo Dybala doing brilliantly as he left the Bologna defence in knots before a chipped cross found Morata to nod home.

Rabiot then made it 3-0 on the stroke of half-time, the Frenchman slotting past Lukasz Skorupski from Kulusevski's lay-off at the end of a lovely flowing move.

Juve quickly picked up where they left off in the second period, Morata producing an exquisite first touch on the spin to bring Wojciech Szczesny's long ball under his spell, then holding off a defender before squeezing a powerful shot under the hands of Skorupski.

Morata nearly got his hat-trick just before the hour when hitting into the side-netting from a Juan Cuadrado cross, though former Juve talent Orsolini did score at the other end with a well-taken finish late on.

Not that it had any major impact on Juve, who never looked like dropping points and that did the job as they ensured they will be at Europe's top table next term.

Andrea Pirlo still hopes to stay on as Juventus coach and keep Cristiano Ronaldo at the club as he prepares for Sunday's decisive Serie A clash with Bologna.

Juve sit fifth in the table after 37 matches, a point behind Napoli in fourth and Milan in third, and they know they must win to have any chance of finishing in a Champions League spot.

Pirlo's first season in charge has been difficult. The Bianconeri lost their title to Inter and crashed out of the Champions League to Porto at the last-16 stage.

However, they have still claimed two trophies in 2021, winning the Supercoppa Italiana match against Napoli in January before lifting the Coppa Italia this week after defeating Atalanta 2-1 in the final.

Speculation persists that Juve will look to replace Pirlo before next season, while it has also been rumoured they could sanction the sale of Ronaldo, who has scored 36 goals in all competitions this term.

Pirlo, however, appears eager to keep working with Ronaldo at the Allianz Stadium and improve on his first campaign in the dugout.

"We do this job for the adrenaline that it brings," he said on Saturday. "I want to continue working with this team and this club, but I think that's normal.

"The greatest satisfaction of this season has been the relationship with the boys, who have given me a lot, whilst I haven't liked the results and we didn't reach the set goals.

"I was a winner as a player, I want to be a manager, so I think of this year as an opportunity to improve. I don't think that the club will decide my future on the basis of tomorrow. We'll see what happens.  

"After the Milan game [a 3-0 defeat on May 9], we were 'dead'; now, we are still alive. Let's think about ourselves first, and then see what happens elsewhere. We mustn't have any regrets. There is always pressure, but we are calm and there is enthusiasm."

He added on Ronaldo: "I see Cristiano at Juventus and extremely focused, just as I saw him in the Coppa Italia final on Wednesday."

One figure who is set to leave Juve after this season is Gianluigi Buffon, with the 43-year-old having announced he will not commit to the club for 2021-22.

Pirlo said of his old team-mate: "With Buffon, Juve is losing a monument of football, both on and off the pitch. It's a sad feeling as we have come a long way together. I admire him very much."

Antonio Conte said Inter are ready to claim silverware this season after moving further clear atop the Serie A summit.

Romelu Lukaku scored the only goal of the game as high-flying Inter edged Bologna 1-0 on Saturday to open up an eight-point lead.

Inter, who last won the Scudetto in 2010, have claimed nine consecutive league victories for the first time since 2007 to be clear of city rivals Milan with a match in hand.

Conte's Inter came close to hoisting a trophy aloft last season, beaten by Sevilla in the Europa League final, but the former Italy boss feels the Nerazzurri are better equipped for glory in 2020-21.

"Inevitably, as we get closer to the finish line, every victory weighs more and more," Conte told Sky Sport Italia.

"Winning in Bologna against a team that plays good football and presses you hard, that was certainly a big step forward. Bologna did very well, they have an excellent coach in Sinisa Mihajlovic and it wasn't easy.

"This was also a very long day for us, as we were in the hotel watching Milan's game at lunch, then I watched Sassuolo against Roma. Juventus played just before us, so I didn't see that one.

"It wasn't easy playing after everyone else, especially after international duty, but the lads kept their focus and the right spirit. It was not to be taken for granted.

"I told the lads, this is a victory that we must follow up with Sassuolo on Wednesday."

Inter are in the box seat with 10 matches remaining, but Conte added: "It cannot be a Scudetto celebration, because we have to earn that on the pitch and it needs to be mathematically certain. There are 10 games to go for us, nine for some others, and 27-30 points up for grabs.

"We know full well that Serie A is very difficult and every match is a battle to get the victory. The closer to we get to the finish line, the clearer we can see the prize at the end.

"Everyone is looking at that direction and we see it from a different angle to the others right now, but we still have it all to do. We've achieved nothing yet."

"I was called to Inter in order to change the narrative of the last few years," said Conte, who was appointed in 2019, having previously led Juventus to three consecutive titles. "The objective was in three years to either win or at least build something credible and make the Inter fans proud.

"Inevitably, a few things have changed since the start of this journey, but we must continue to focus only on our work. As I said, we must concentrate only on what we have the power to change. What happens off the field is of interest, obviously, but we cannot affect that."

Conte continued: "It would be marvellous to end a season that has not been easy for anyone by crowning it with a trophy. We went close last season with the Europa League Final, but this time I'm convinced we are more ready."

Inter are the third team in Serie A history to win each of the first nine games in the second half of the season, after Milan in 1989-90 (10) and Juventus in 2017-18 (nine). 

Romelu Lukaku reflected on a "great moment" after reaching 20 Serie A goals for a second successive season, further vindicating his decision to join Inter.

Having initially seen his header turned onto the crossbar by goalkeeper Federico Ravaglia, Lukaku was able to tap home the rebound while stood on the line to secure Inter a 1-0 win at Bologna on Saturday.

The result – coupled with city rivals Milan only managing a draw at home to Sampdoria earlier in the day – means the Nerazzurri have moved eight points clear at the Serie A summit.

Lukaku's scoring feats have played a crucial role in helping Inter seize control of the title race, with the Belgian becoming only the seventh player to make it to 20 goals in back-to-back league campaigns in the club's history.

"I'm really happy with the win today; it was a complicated game. We took a big step and need to continue down this road," Lukaku – who was signed from Manchester United in 2019 – told Inter TV.

"It's a great moment for me - I made the right decision coming here.

"I'll do everything I can to help the team because I'm nobody without my team-mates. The group is the most important thing. We have our aim and need to keep this up."

Inter have a game in hand on their nearest rivals and having missed out on the Scudetto last season to Juventus, look primed to be crowned champions for the first time since 2010.

Antonio Conte's Inter were made to work hard for the victory by Bologna, who had more possession (55.9 per cent) and 12 attempts, albeit only two of those were on target.

For Lukaku, the result was a further demonstration of the strength within the team to cope in difficult situations, though insisted the job was still far from complete.

"We've all grown a lot. We deal with pressure better and turn it into positive energy," he said.

"This helps us on the pitch and we need to continue in this manner."

Inter have won nine league games in a row for the first time since 2007, when they set the all-time Serie A record by winning 17 on the spin.

They are next in action on Wednesday when Sassuolo visit San Siro.

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