It was the second minute of stoppage time and Inter were winning 2-1 at Monza on Saturday evening.
Inter had a throw-in near the Monza corner flag. Robin Gosens threw the ball to Romelu Lukaku, only for the Belgian to horribly miscontrol the ball straight out of play.
The camera immediately switched to the Inter bench where Edin Dzeko was caught laughing at Lukaku’s meme-worthy sloppiness.
European Golden Shoe 2022/23
That smile would be wiped off the face of Dzeko just moments later as Monza went up the other end and grabbed a 93rd minute equaliser through former Inter defender Luca Caldirola.
Classic Lukaku pic.twitter.com/CViojpjxLP
— #TouchlineFracas (@touchlinefracas) January 7, 2023
It was two costly points dropped by Inter. They had worked their way onto the cusp of reentering the Scudetto race by beating leaders Napoli 1-0 on Wednesday, only to throw it away versus newly-promoted Monza.
No guessing who became the scapegoat of this Inter setback. It was, of course, Lukaku, who came on as a second-half substitute for Dzeko.
Lukaku has been universally panned on social media and by Inter fans.
And, to be honest, it has been deserved. It is not hyperbolic to say that this was one of the most disastrous performances of Lukaku’s career.
It was up there with the seven-touch game for Chelsea versus Crystal Palace, the four open goals missed against Croatia for Belgium at the World Cup and the very worst of the Man Utd banter era.
Virtually every single touch by Lukaku in his 35 minutes on the pitch was embarrassingly heavy. He lost the ball time and time again, and miscontrolled even the simplest of passes – including that throw-in from Gosens which will be replayed now for the rest of his career.
In total, he touched the ball 15 times and lost it on 10 of those occasions. He won none of his four duels, had no shots and created no chances.
Lukaku vs Monza 🧠🔥🤩 pic.twitter.com/Y0HnCVU0yf
— . (@Adelbackup) January 8, 2023
He looked way short of the level required at this level both technically and physically.
Lukaku’s horrible return to Inter
Lukaku returned to Inter on a one-season loan this past summer from Chelsea, but has struggled horribly with his fitness and form thus far.
He has played just 355 minutes of club football this season, starting four games and appearing in only seven matches in total. He has scored two goals this campaign.
He went into the World Cup unfit, scoring no goals and missing a host of big chances in the 0-0 draw with Croatia which eliminated Belgium from the group stages.
Lukaku was often mocked about his shape and fitness during his two-year spell at Man Utd, but appeared to have put that all behind him during two brilliant years under Antonio Conte at Inter from 2019 to 2021.
The 29-year-old then rejoined Chelsea from Inter in a €115 million transfer in the summer of 2021.
However, he endured a disastrous season, scoring just eight goals and falling out publicly with manager Thomas Tuchel. His fitness also started to decline and he missed more games for Chelsea in a six-week spell before Christmas 2021 than he did in his entire two-year first spell at Inter.
Inter are desperately hoping that Lukaku can rediscover his form and fitness from his first spell at Inter in 2023.
But based on his showing against Monza, he is back to the very worst form he displayed at Chelsea and in his final months at Man Utd.