After the loss against Wolfsburg, fans were looking for a response today. They wanted to see that the players were dissapointed at their performance midweek and would let out their frustrations on a Cesena side battling against relegation. They wanted to see a performance that showed they were ready to fight. The first 45 minutes showed none of that.
Okay, to be fair, the first 45 minutes showed Inter keeping possession and something that looked like creativity on the ball, if you squinted a little and used your imagination. Once Shaqiri went off after taking a knock in the 24th minute and Kovacic replaced him, the ball went back and forth between the players without anything really happening.
In the 30th minute, Cesena took the lead. A lobbed pass right down the center found Defrel who chipped the rushing Handanovic. The rest of the half saw neither side really creating much, and halftime couldn't come quick enough for Mancini.
When the players emerged for the second half Podolski came on for Kuzmanovic. The formation switched to a 4231, with Podolski on the right, Palacio on the left, and Kovacic in the center behind Icardi. This change began to pay off almost immediately. Icardi scored a beautiful overhead kick that was wrongly called for offside. But less than a minute later Inter scored anyways. An Icardi low cross was poked home by Palacio.
Podolski was seeing a lot of the ball and had a couple of good chances to take the lead, the best being a shot from outside the box that hit the post after a deflection. Unfortunately Dodo had to be taken off after an injury and was replaced by Santon. It meant that we saw the first all-Italian back line in a very long time (D'Ambrosio, Ranocchia, Andreolli, Santon).
The rest of the game saw Inter pushing to take the lead, with a number of crosses being whipped across the face of goal without anyone taking that final touch. Cesena had a couple of chances on the break, but neither side was able to put the ball in the back of the net and the match ended 1-1.
This is one of those matches that has to be won. Inter is unquestionably the better side on paper, but on the pitch the side was unable to make their dominance count for anything. While the second half was pretty good it wasn't good enough considering what had been seen in the first 45 minutes. This was not the type of response needed after the Wolfsburg match, and a performance like that on Thursday will leave the side with no chance of qualifying to the next round of the EL.