Inter’s first bit of the season has gone from slightly bad to utterly disappointing and because of that, de Boer’s position as Inter manager has been said to be in jeopardy especially if he would have failed to convert this Torino match in three crucial points. He decided to use his favorite 4-3-3 formation in such a critical match, putting Banega back in the starting eleven and trusting Brozovic even after his subpar performances in the last couple matches.
Right from the start Inter wanted to put a lot of pressure on the opposition, taking advantage of their wingers to create chances to score. Less than a minute into the game a good cross from the right flank found Eder on the other side of the pitch, but Icardi wasn’t ready in the middle of the box. Joao Mario tried to surprise Joe Hart with a long shot but his powerful attempt ended just a little wide on the left, accompanied by a roar from the whole stadium. The pace slowed down a little in the next couple of minutes with the Nerazzurri mostly in control of the ball even though they were never able to find the right opening to hurt the opposition.
Eder and Candreva were undoubtedly the most active players in the first 15 minutes. Both moved a lot on their flank, trying also to create chances for Icardi who often couldn’t overpower the Granata player who was marking him. Both Italian wingers tried to change the score, but the shots finished their runs wide on the right.
With just twenty minutes on the clock, Inter already had three good chances to take the lead thanks to some sharp and fluid ball moving. Everybody looked really focused and motivated, even Brozovic who had a very difficult start this season and who was, deservedly, one of the more criticized players in the last two matches. Thanks to this strong mental approach, Torino never worried the Nerazzurri, failing to keep the ball and allowing Handanovic to relax at least for a half.
In the 35th minute, Joe Hart decided to help Inter take the lead. Banega found Candreva just outside the box with a cheeky nutmeg on Valdifiori, Antonio then tried to pass the ball to Icardi with a first touch pass, Icardi couldn’t control it but the English keeper amazingly mistimed his his dive, allowing the Argentinian to recover the ball and score an easy goal.
It was a good, solid first half from Inter. Maybe the best one since the Juve match. We finally saw the team play like one, occupying the right spaces, helping each other when needed with quick and accurate passes, a rarity if you watched the Nerazzurri play in the last few weeks. The biggest praises are for Eder, who ran like he was possessed, threatening the opposing defense every time he had the ball, and for Brozovic, who didn't do anything particularly flashy, but he was always in the right place and never gave the ball away with stupid errors. I didn't like Joao Mario much in this first 45 minutes. In his defense, it must be said that he isn't playing in his most suitable role as he had to replace Gary Medel in front of Miranda and Murillo but he lost the ball too easily at times and he made some careless plays that could have costed the team a goal.
Icardi's BFF Maxi Lopez was the only substitution during the break. He replaced the ineffective Iago Falque who never bothered the Nerazzurri thanks to a strong first half performance by an uncommonly alert Yuto Nagatomo.
Marcelo must have heard my praises while I was watching because he was the one that had the first good chance to double the lead in the 49th minute for Inter at the very beginning of the second half but his right-footed attempt ended just a little wide on the left. A few minutes later Icardi couldn't reach the ball with his head on a Candreva cross and not much later Eder smashed a powerful shot just wide.
In the 60th minute, Miranda almost caused a penalty pushing Maxi Lopez on the ground inside the box but he the referee conceded just the corner kick for the Granata. Brozovic almost made it 2-0 for the second time, twice. His first shot was saved by Hart and on the ricochet he sent the ball over the crossbar with a header.
63 minutes into the game, Inter did the most Inter thing ever. Miranda and Ansaldi collided outside their area, and they just could watch Belotti pick up the ball and beat the helpless Handanovic. Everything created so far was gone, in a second.
Four minutes later, Brozovic, who has been extremely active in this second half, wasted yet another chance to score and redeem himself. And what a crazy miss this one was. Candreva chipped the ball from the right flank to Icardi on the far post. The Argentinian found the Croatian behind Hart's shoulders, almost inside the goal. Brozovic gently hit the ball with his head but Moretti saved it, maybe with his back, maybe with the help of an arm, preventing Inter from taking the lead again.
There was yet another missed chance for the Nerazzurri in the 73rd minute when Candreva, all alone inside Torino's box, clumsily hit the ball first with the head, then with the arm without being able to direct it towards Torino's goal. The curse continued as Icardi wasted the easiest chance he'll ever had just six minutes later.
Despite the uncountable amount of times the Nerazzurri could have closed the match, the players never lost the hope, always pushing forward trying to find the opening to knock Torino to the ground. De Boer was probably liking how his team was performing and made his only substitution in the 74th minute, replacing Eder with Palacio and keeping the exact same formation. The Brazilian looked angry on the bench, maybe because of a problem that prevented him from finishing the match.
Mauro Icardi, probably Inter worst player today, finally decided that it was about time to score the second and final goal for the Nerazzurri. And what a beauty it was! He received the ball from Palacio with his back to goal, just inside the Torino box, and hit the ball while turning with a thumping strike that found the right-hand corner of the net. He finally was able to keep the ball, out-muscling his marker and creating a masterpiece that Joe Hart was only able to admire.
Nothing much happened after Inter's second, beautiful goal, and finally the Nerazzurri were able win again after a losing streak that went on for too long. As Handanovic said in his post-game interview, too many time the team played good games but without enough character and fortunately today Inter was able keep pushing until the final whistle and get a good, deserved result.
This match could have ended with a much different result if it wasn't for a lack of cold blood when it came to finishing. Icardi didn't play his best game today. He failed to keep the ball with his back to the goal and passed the ball too carelessly at times, destroying Inter's maneuver in its final stages. Fortunately, his performance was good enough to score twice and this will hopefully help him relax a little after the discussion with the Curva.
Three pazzi points? I like them.