Following the impressive win over Roma Inter trabelled to take on Udinese. Both sides were feeling confidnent after important wins in their previous matches (Udinese beating Milan over the weekend). Though old Inter faces Andrea Stramaccioni and Dejan Stankovic were on the opposite bench plotting how to ruin the day, many were confident that the team could go 5 matches unbeaten for the first time this season.
Due to the suspensions of Ranocchia and JJ, Felipe and Santon returned to the starting lineup. Kovacic replaced Gnoukouri in midfield while Hernanes displaced Shaqiri for the third consecutive match.
The first half was pretty much one-way traffic. Inter kept Udinese keeper Karnezis busy forcing him to save shots from Hernanes, Guarin, and Palacio. During this time Domizzi was send off for two bookable offences but somehow Udinese were able to keep the scoreline level going into the break.
The second half got off to a flying start. An aerial through ball found Kovacic in the box and though his shot was well wide, he was taken out in the process by Danilo and a penalty was given to Inter after 20 seconds. Depite a long period of protests by the Udinese players Icardi coolly slotted the ball home and gave Inter a deserved lead in the 48th minute.
As soon as things started to go well the team had to mess it all up. With Udinese's first real attack of the match Allen found Di Natale who skipped past defenders before beating former teammate Handanovic to level the scoreline 2 minutes later.
From there an already angry Udinese crowd was roaring and there was worry that they might push on and take the lead, but their players found a way to make the fans even more furious, though not at the referee this time. In the 58th minute Badu was booked for arguing with the referee. He continued his protests though and flicked his hand in the referee's face, receiving a straight red card and sending his team down to nine men. Di Natale was furious at his teammate for ruining all the hard work they had done so far.
Sensing an opportunity, Mancini threw on Podolski for Guarin and the substitution worked wonders. With his first touch Podolski took a shot that was blocked and when it fell back to him, he took a beautiful shot that went straight into the top corner to give the German his first goal for the Nerazzurri in the 65th minute. (So that left foot of his does actually know how to put the ball into the back of the net, good to know...) But in all seriousness it looks like he might finally be getting used to playing here, in the last two games he has gotten his first assist and his first goal.
So being up a goal and playing against 9 men you would expect the rest of the game to be a formality right? Turns out not so much...Inter decided that they wanted to take their possession game to a whole new level and try to pass the ball into the back of the net, wasting a number of chances to kill off the game. As time passed Udinese began to get more and more confident and soon they were the ones pushing for a goal.
Handanovic had to make a couple of saves and D'Ambrosio had to make an excellent block at the end to prevent Udinese from tying the game. By the time the final whistle went the Inter players were relieved because for the final 25 minutes or so they seemed like the side that was down two men. Luckily though they were able to hold on and pick up all 3 points.
There was absolutely no reason for the team to switch off towards the end of the match like they did. Playing with your food never ends well and thankfully they did not have to pay for it. In the post-match conference Mancini rightfully talked about the players needing to use their heads for the entire match and hopefully they will learn from what happened in this game.
This win moves the team up to 7th, one point behind Fiorentina who take on Juventus this round. The dream for EL is still (improbably) alive though it is questionably how beneficial the competition would be. In the poll from the preview 58% said they wanted Inter back in European competition, regardless of the extra matches, tiredness, and possible FFP sanctions. Regardless the situation is out of the team's control and all they can do is hope the teams above them slip up while Inter tries to keep winning. Even if it is winning ugly like in this match.