Inter Milan went top of Serie A on Saturday after Stefano Sensi’s header sealed a 1-0 win over 10-man Udinese at San Siro to continue their perfect start.
Udinese midfielder Rodrigo De Paul was shown a straight red card for slapping Antonio Candreva off the ball in the first half.
Sensi pounced just before the break with a superb header from a Diego Godin cross that was enough to secure Inter Milan’s third win in three league games under Antonio Conte.
But the coach was not completely satisfied with his side’s performance.
“We should have been more clinical and finished it off earlier, but instead we were always just hanging on,” Conte said.
“I read too much rubbish in the papers, but the truth is nothing is easy and we will never take anything for granted.
“Every game is a battle and the level of Serie A competition has definitely improved.”
Inter Milan moved ahead of Juventus on to nine points after the champions were held to a goalless draw by Fiorentina earlier on Saturday.
Udinese occupy 14th place, having taken three points from their opening three games.
Conte’s side knew that victory would send them two points clear at the top after the result in Florence.
They immediately showed intent when Matteo Politano drilled a shot off the foot of the post after five minutes.
The visitors proved their ability to cause an upset on the opening day when they beat AC Milan at home.
But they were put on the back foot when a Video Assistant Referee (VAR) review showed De Paul slapping Candreva in the face after 34 minutes.
The Argentina international was shown a straight red card.
Inter Milan needed just 10 minutes to profit from their numerical advantage as Sensi stooped to meet a cross from Godin and head his finish past the goalkeeper.
On-loan Manchester United forward Alexis Sanchez nearly made an instant impact after making his debut from the bench late on.
But goalkeeper Juan Musso somehow recovered to block the Chilean’s effort from point-blank range.