These players need a breather - Conte blames fatigue as Inter are pegged back by Fiorentina
Antonio Conte has said Lautaro Martinez and Romelu Lukaku "need a breather" after Inter were pegged back late on against Fiorentina.
Borja Valero's early goal looked to be enough to be sending Conte's side two points clear of Juventus at the top of Serie A on Sunday, but Inter were ultimately made to pay for some wasteful finishing.
Substitute Dusan Vlahovic was the hero for Fiorentina, picking up the ball in his own half before driving clear of Inter's defence and thumping a fine finish beyond Samir Handanovic in stoppage time.
Conte, whose side dropped out of the Champions League in midweek due to a last-gasp defeat to Barcelona, believes fatigue is proving the crucial factor in Inter's concession of late goals, as well as Martinez and Lukaku's shows of profligacy, with both players passing up great opportunities against Fiorentina.
"It's hard to talk about fitness levels, because we've had seven games in 21 days, with Lautaro and Lukaku playing constantly," Conte told Sky Sport Italia.
"Unfortunately, the Alexis Sanchez injury left us in a situation where we couldn't give them any respite, so I can only thank them. These players need a breather, but we cannot afford to give it to them.
"These are games where we didn't take the results we deserved. Against Barcelona, we paid for wasting several chances to score and allowing two situations where we could've done a lot better.
"It was a strong response from the team. It’s disappointing about that late equaliser, because we deserved more, both tonight and against Barcelona.
"I don't think we can complain about the effort or attitude of these lads. It is a growth process, we need patience to learn from mistakes. If we don't have patience and assume we must win every game because we are Inter, then we're not progressing.
"We are talking about players who are constantly going out there and playing 90 minutes, so inevitably there is going to be some fatigue."
The draw has left Inter level on points with Juve heading into their final match of 2019, with the Nerazzurri taking on Genoa on Saturday.
However, they will have to do so without Martinez, who received his fifth booking of the season against Fiorentina, and Marcelo Brozovic, who is likewise suspended.