Romelu Lukaku suffered the ignominy of having to watch from bench as Inter Milan took to the San Siro pitch against FC Porto last night, with the ancient Edin Džeko preferred to spearhead the attack for this Round of 16 first leg matchup, but it was Big Rom who got the last laugh after he came off the bench to score the late winner in their 1-0 triumph.
That makes it back-to-back games with a goal, following the weekend’s success against Udinese, with the Chelsea loanee thus doubling his season total in the space of just four days. Not a bad way to respond to the challenges laid down by the Inter hierarchy.
ROMELU LUKAKU FOUR MINUTES FROM TIME. pic.twitter.com/kBcNWEBWm5— CBS Sports Golazo ⚽️ (@CBSSportsGolazo) February 22, 2023
The decision to not start Lukaku apparently came down to fitness more than anything, with Inter CEO Beppe Marotta adding that Lukaku isn’t quite yet 100 per cent after his long injury layoff. Marotta did bring up Lukaku’s weight as well, which the heavyweight prizefighter was able to laugh off in the post-game interview.
“It has to be said that he’s someone who’s carrying around 103 kilograms, so it’s natural that he’ll have some ups and downs physically speaking. Now he’s recovering, and I think the coach is the only one who’s in a position to evaluate his form and the best way to use him.”
“[But] he’s giving his all. I know that he hasn’t contributed what we expected from him so far this season, but we’re confident that he’ll have his say in the final months of the season.”
-Beppe Marotta; source: FCInterNews via Sempre Inter
Romelu Lukaku: “Wow, look at me up top… I’m in great shape, mamma mia!”— Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) February 22, 2023
Belgian striker said that joking & smiling with @MatteoBarzaghi before the post-match interview on @SkySport #UCL pic.twitter.com/hZDof1ETWA
Inter’s game was broadcast by CBS in the United States, where Thierry Henry regularly serves as a pundit. In yesterday’s coverage, Henry talked at length about his fellow striker, and a player he had coached with the Belgian national team as well, revealing that he had advised him against joining Thomas Tuchel’s Chelsea at the time, which, in hindsight, certainly seems like sage advice.
“We had a discussion when he went to Chelsea. I told him he’s going to find it difficult to play there because of the way Thomas Tuchel liked to play...
“Rom likes to stay where he is. Feed him, play him in early and he’ll try to bully you. He was a different type of man to what Tuchel wanted. Is he going to fit what Potter’s trying to do? And what does he want to do? I don’t think he wants to go back. He wants to stay at Inter.”
-Thierry Henry; source: CBS via @JacobsBen
We can safely say that Lukaku wants to stay at Inter. Now he just has to keep playing like this to enable that.
"It was striker's luck"— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) February 22, 2023
"The last few months have been very difficult"
"I haven't spoken to anybody about returning to London"
Romelu Lukaku share's his thoughts after his goal gave Inter an advantage over Porto... #UCL pic.twitter.com/nql3mTILUf