After three consecutive defeats in Serie A and endless rumors over Frank de Boer's future at the club it really was time for Inter to return to winning ways, and mercifully we managed it against Torino on Wednesday night. A double from Mauro Icardi was enough to see off the Granata at San Siro and give our Dutch coach at the very least a stay of execution, with a convincing (if wasteful) team performance that represented an enormous improvement on the matches against Cagliari, Southampton and Atalanta. Player ratings are below (while you can find Luca's general recap here, if that takes your fancy).
Handanovic - 6
Not called into action at all during the first half as Torino failed to create anything of note, and he wasn't particularly busy in the second either. Sent a shudder down San Siro's spine when he threw the ball at against Icardi's head but there was little he could do about Belotti's equalizer. Spoke well in his interview at full-time too, about our need to be more clinical.
Ansaldi - 5.5
Not great. Unfortunately he still isn't totally match fit and you could see it in some of the banal mistakes he made in the first half. Tried to maintain a high position with Ljajic reluctant to track back on him and linked up a few times with Candreva, but a lot of his passes seemed to go astray. He was an unwitting protagonist in the slapstick chain of events that led to Torino's goal, when Murillo effectively fouled him on Belotti's behalf, but that wasn't really his fault. I remain confident that Colo will come good; it took him a couple of months to get into his stride at Genoa last season, so he could easily follow the same trajectory here as well. The best full-back we have at the club, except on this occasion he was outshone by Nagatomo on the other side.
Yes, I said that. Please don't give me that look, I'm serious.
Miranda - 6.5
A few more ups and downs than we've come to expect from Miranda, although overall the positives outweighed the negatives as they always do. Had a nice duel with Belotti and more or less came out on top, although he also played a part in his goal when Maxi Lopez beat him in the air. Not a great performance but sufficient nonetheless. Essentially he admitted on Sunday that he's not a huge fan of the way De Boer intends to defend and you can see proof of that on the pitch, but despite that we can't do without him. I mean look at the goal we conceded for goodness' sake.
Murillo - 5
He always has one colossal mistake in him, and tonight that mistake was to trip up his own teammate and unravel a red carpet for Belotti to race in and score. There was one standing ovation moment in the first half where he reminded us why we used to like him so much, executing an excellent tackle on the touchline to prevent a Torino counterattack, but those moments have been few and far between in 2016. Sadly we might need another centre-back in January.
Nagatomo - 6.5
Decidedly better than against Atalanta on Sunday, although that means little. For sure he looked more composed than Ansaldi on this occasion, executing a couple of good defensive interventions while trying to offer help going forward (with discrete success). For once he didn't disappoint, appearing to be more comfortable on the left than when he plays on the right. Let's hope this was the sign of better things to come, although I'm not confident.
Brozovic - 6
A frustrating performance at times, but this was at least closer to the Brozovic we saw when he arrived just under two years ago, and that can only be good news. He ran his socks off when we didn't have the ball and also got forward to make sure Icardi wasn't left on his own in the box, but he was also wasteful at the same time. He simply had to score that header when he was practically on the goal-line: a big waste which fortunately we got away with.
Joao Mario - 6.5
If Inter didn't suffer particularly from Gary Medel's enforced absence then a lot of the credit ought to go to the new European Champion. You don't get many flashy moments out of Joao Mario but you get a heck of a lot of team play, in this game focused slightly more on defense than offence in a central role. He made a couple of small errors but this was much better than his last two outings. He's got the discipline to help us going forwards while simultaneously making sure that we don't miss Pitbull going backwards.
Banega - 7
De Boer's decision to leave Banega on the bench against Atalanta did not pay off at all, and his return to the starting XI against Torino only reinforced that. Banega is a free spirit on the pitch and vastly enhances the intelligence of our possession, so I really do hope we don't see him left out of the team again. Like... Ever. Ahem.
Candreva - 6
Good. He sent a lovely through-ball into Icardi for the opening goal to confirm that the two have a good understanding, while his relationship with Ansaldi on the right is slowly improving. He's often too selfish when it comes to shooting, trying to score goals that only come off once a century, but he's a constant worry for the opposing defense while also sacrificing himself to protect our own. The classic Italian 'ala'.
Icardi - 7.5
The Curva Nord may never cheer for him again but quite frankly I don't care, that's their problem. With this guy it's always the same story: you can badmouth and tut at him all you like but you can't deny how stupendous a striker he is. If the first goal was fortuitous (what on earth was Hart thinking trying to parry the ball out?) the second was f a n t a s t i c, one of the best goals I can remember him scoring for Inter and in a moment of absolute need for his teammates and coach. He led the line purposefully and played like a captain should - at least on the pitch you can say that.
Eder - 7
There's an argument that he was our best player in this match after Icardi. Actually, forget the argument: he was our best player in this match after Icardi. The love has never truly blossomed between Eder and Interisti since he arrived in January, but I continue to think he's a very useful resource that we should think twice about trying to flog to the first buyer. He's criticized for offering little more than running and work-rate, but he did more than just that against Torino and justified De Boer's decision to prefer him to Perisic. In this game he was able to demonstrate all the counterattacking prowess that made him such a star at Sampdoria, although the precision in his shooting remains imperfect.
Palacio - 5.5
He didn't do much when he came on, other than infuriating all the Interisti online who wanted Gabriel Barbosa to come on instead, but the one thing he did was precious, slipping the ball into Icardi's feet for the winning goal.
De Boer - 6.5
He's had one of the toughest weeks imaginable, even for an Inter manager, but last night the players gave him a positive response to the Atalanta defeat and have probably bought him another couple of weeks at least. He prepared this game very well (it's not a coincidence that Mihajlovic decided to change Torino's formation as early as half-time) and saw his side take a deserved lead into the break, before the same old inexplicable errors that we should probably put down to a chronic lack of concentration - both in defense and in attack on this occasion - threatened to undo all their hard work and leave us with just a draw. Fortunately Icardi popped up with a wonder goal to secure the points, and for the chances we created the victory was indisputable (both Belotti and Mihajlovic admitted after the match Torino had deserved to lose), which will have reassured the club hierarchy to a certain extent. Nobody really knows how close to the sack he is, but the hashtag that Interisti managed to send viral on Twitter on Tuesday - #iostocondeboer ('I'm with De Boer') - tells you how the vast majority of the fanbase view things. Sadly I don't think he'll be given the time to iron out all his mistakes, of which there are still quite a few, but at least he can breathe a tiny bit more easily until Sunday after a victory obtained with his own footballing ideas and no one else's.