Cesena versus Inter. Common sense would lead one to believe that the bottom dwelling hosts would be handily dealt with by the Nerazzurri. The reality of the situation may be altogether different as the events of the past week with Massimo Moratti stepping down from the Honorary Presidential position as well as Angelomario Moratti, Rinaldo Ghelfi, and Alberto Manzonetto vacating their seats on the board reflects a tumultuous situation within the Inter organization. Aside from the club's changes in organizational leadership, Inter boss Walter Mazzarri was also on the hot seat. With one draw and two defeats from the last three matches, the Nerazzurri manager was surviving from result to result and with David Moyes reportedly seen around Milan, the rumors fueling the inevitable Mazzarri exit were making the rounds.
With all of the distractions off the field, would these events unite and galvanize the Inter players to turn it all around?
Lineups from the official Inter site:
CESENA: 1 Leali; 25 Capelli, 14 Volta, 6 Lucchini, 33 Renzetti; 34 Cascione, 8 De Feudis, 5 Giorgi; 61 Garritano; 18 Djuric, 89 Marilungo
Substitutes: 30 Agliardi, 2 Nica, 3 Mazzotta, 7 Carbonero, 9 Rodriguez, 15 Krajnc, 17 Magnusson, 19 Succi, 24 Perico, 27 Hugo Almeida, 77 Ze Eduardo, 81 Bressan
INTER: 1 Handanovic; 14 Campagnaro, 23 Ranocchia, 5 Juan Jesus; 20 Obi, 88 Hernanes, 18 Medel, 10 Kovacic, 22 Dodò; 8 Palacio, 9 Icardi
Substitutes: 30 Carrizo, 46 Berni, 6 Andreolli, 15 Vidic, 17 Kuzmanovic, 25 Mbaye, 28 Puscas, 29 Camara, 44 Krhin, 97 Bonazzoli
Handanovic started in goal with a three man defensive line of Campagnaro, Ranocchia, and Juan Jesus; a five man midfield included Obi, Medel, Hernanes, Kovacic, and Dodo; with the strike force of Palacio and Icardi up front.
Inter started the match in an attacking fashion. They dominated the ball leaving the home side with few counterattacks in which to answer.
While Moyes was reportedly seen around Milan fueling rumors as to when Mazzarri would exit, Roberto Mancini was present in the Cesena stands only further reinforcing the talk about the present Inter boss' future.
In the 7th minute of play, Inter product, Obi crossed into Dodo for a shot on goal that forced a save from Cesena keeper, Leali.
Inter continued to possess the ball and easily countered the infrequent Seahorse counterattack.
Finally, in the 19th minute, the Nerazzurri began truly building towards a threatening offensive push as Obi crossed the ball into Palacio who unfortunately shot it wide.
Dodo on the left flank tried his luck at finding Icardi but the Cesena defense cleared any Inter threat from their box in the 22nd minute.
All of the Nerazzurri pressure culminated in the award of a penalty in favor of Palacio as Leali clearly fouled the Argentine striker in the box. The Cesena keeper fouled Palacio in the penalty box, ultimately bringing him down, and leaving no choice but for the referee to award Inter a penalty kick. Leali was also shown a red card as he fouled the last man for the Nerazzurri and Garritano was substituted for the backup keeper, Agliardi. Icardi stepped up and converted the penalty to bring Inter the lead over Cesena of 0-1.
The home side tried its best to respond despite being a player down. In the 34th minute Cascione shot over the Inter goal. While in the 36th minute Handanovic saved Djuric's header and fortunately for the Nerazzurri, the rebound by Marilungo went high.
Other than Palacio's offside goal that was disallowed in the 45th minute, Inter continued to hold their ground while Cesena's counters were easily neutralized.
The second half began where the first half left off with the Nerazzurri dominating ball possession with few real chances of scoring. Hernanes' shot in the 13th minute of the second half just missing by inches was probably the most threatening of Inter's offensive attack.
Another offside goal was disallowed this time by Argentine defender Campagnaro in the 40th minute.
In the 47th minute Agliardi made two consecutive saves, first on Icardi's shot and then Palacio's attempt on goal.
After the penalty was converted for goal in the first half, it seemed as if Inter were playing not to lose instead of playing to win.
Inter dominated possession with 68% of the ball compared to Cesena's 32%. Six Nerazzurri shots on target and 12 shots off target kept Leali and Agliardi busy but for the most part the away side seemed content holding the score line. It was unfortunate that two goals were disallowed for being offside and Hernanes' shot barely missed its target. A player advantage could have seen Inter gain some confidence by scoring some goals but considering they will be facing a difficult matchup next game in 4th place Sampdoria, maybe it was best to conserve their energy for the midweek fixture.
Currently the Nerazzurri find themselves in eighth place in the league table with 12 points so far in the domestic campaign. There is still a lot of time to try to gain some ground as it is only the eighth week but considering the multitude of injuries and multiple competitions Inter are participating in, it remains a daunting task but not impossible.
Lastly, a few positives to take away from a fairly nondescript performance. Inter won and Hernanes played well. His pass to Palacio was instrumental in the penalty call and overall in the past couple of matches he has taken control of the midfield and dictated play. We need more of these types of performances from the Brazilian as the midfield requires his veteran leadership.
Man of the Match: Hernanes
Cesena 0-1 Inter
First half: Icardi (32')
Second half: N/A