ROME (AP) — Even without Romelu Lukaku and Antonio Conte, Inter Milan seems intent on successfully defending its Serie A title.
The Nerazzurri completely overwhelmed visiting Bologna 6-1 on Saturday to extend their unbeaten start to the Italian league.
Substitute Edin Džeko scored two late goals after Lautaro Martinez, Milan Skriniar, Nicolò Barella and Matias Vecino gave the hosts a four-goal cushion.
Arthur Theate pulled one back for Bologna four minutes from time.
The victory provided some welcome relief following two frustrating performances for Inter: A draw at Sampdoria last weekend and a loss at home to Real Madrid in the Champions League.
Inter moved atop the standings, one point above Roma, AC Milan, Napoli — which are yet to play this weekend — and Fiorentina, which won at Genoa 2-1 earlier.
There had been concern about Inter’s status after Conte surprisingly left the team in May shortly after leading the club to its first Italian league title in more than a decade.
Conte was openly concerned about the finances of Inter’s Chinese owners and his lack of input in the transfer market, and his worries were confirmed when Lukaku was sold to Chelsea in August for a reported $135 million, a record transfer fee for the European champions.
Lukaku scored 64 goals in 95 matches across all competitions in his two seasons at Inter.
But under new coach Simone Inzaghi, Inter has had no trouble so far making up for losing Lukaku’s goals.
With 15 goals scored in four matches, Inter has the most productive attack in the league.
“I feared this game, because after Wednesday against Real Madrid where we deserved more, there was some concern. Fortunately, we had the right approach from the start,” Inzaghi said. “Inter deserve credit, because Bologna was unbeaten.”
Lautaro started things off against Bologna by redirecting a cross from Denzel Dumfries six minutes in at the San Siro for his fourth goal in as many matches.
Skriniar then rose uncontested to meet a corner with an on-target header on the half-hour mark and Barella concluded another devastating counterattack four minutes later.
After the break, Vecino scored with a tap-in then Džeko scored through the goalkeeper’s legs for his first and fired in from a sharp angle for his second.
With three straight wins, Fiorentina seems transformed under new coach Vincenzo Italiano.
The Viola won 2-1 at Genoa with second-half goals from Riccardo Saponara and Giacomo Bonaventura.
Genoa pulled one back with a late penalty from Domenico Criscito.
Fiorentina finished 13th last season.
Italiano was a late hire after Gennaro Gattuso left Fiorentina in June, barely three weeks after taking charge of the club, due to disagreements over the transfer market.
Last season, Italiano helped Spezia avoid relegation in its Serie A debut.
ATALANTA’S SCORING RATE
Atalanta needed a late goal from Duván Zapata to win at promoted Salernitana 1-0.
The Bergamo squad led Serie A in scoring the past three seasons by averaging more than two goals per game but has produced only four goals in four matches to start this campaign.
Still, Atalanta moved within three points of Inter.
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Andrew Dampf is at https://twitter.com/AndrewDampf