Antonio Conte felt Inter produced an “extraordinary performance” in the 3-0 defeat of Milan, picking out midfield duo Christian Eriksen and Ivan Perisic for special praise.
The Nerazzurri moved four points clear at the top of Serie A thanks to a resounding triumph in the derby on Sunday, Lautaro Martinez scoring in each half at San Siro.
Romelu Lukaku struck his 17th league goal of the season to complete the emphatic victory, in the process becoming the first player to score in four successive derbies for Inter since 1950.
For Conte, it was a case of the best-laid plans coming to fruition, albeit they needed captain Samir Handanovic to make a trio of superb saves early in the second half when the score was still at 1-0.
“Compliments to our guys, who made an extraordinary performance,” Conte said.
“A very well-prepared match, which they followed perfectly, translating the situations they experienced on the pitch.
“There is satisfaction in seeing the growth of the group and I am happy because the guys they deserve to reap the benefits of the work we are doing.”
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Both Eriksen and Perisic, two players linked with moves away in the previous transfer window, enjoyed pivotal roles for Inter.
Making just his seventh league start of the campaign, Eriksen completed 90 per cent of his attempted passes and made nine crosses despite playing in a cental position.
Perisic, meanwhile, provided two assists, including a low cross from Inter’s left flank that allowed Martinez to crucially double the advantage not long after a heavy spell of Milan pressure.
“I think the task of a coach is to try to bring all the elements of the squad to improve and to enter into the idea of football that we intend to develop,” Conte said when asked about the turnaround in fortunes for the duo.
“The growth of Christian and Ivan, but of all our players, makes me proud.”
On Eriksen, who scored a dramatic winner against Milan in the Coppa Italia earlier in the season, the former Chelsea boss added: “Many times hasty judgments are made, as happened for Christian.
“Sometimes it takes a little time, especially when you come from abroad.
“The same goes for Ivan, who this year has shown a great desire to challenge himself. He put himself at the full disposal of the cause and today he played an extraordinary match. He has incredible potential and must believe even more in himself.”
Inter handed Milan a fifth defeat in 2021 in all competitions, which is two more than they suffered throughout the previous year.