Samir Handanovic might’ve just picked up the easiest paycheck of his career. Though Inter huffed and puffed for 84 minutes before taking the lead the Slovenian keeper didn’t have to make a single save throughout the entire match and honestly could’ve just taken a nap the whole time. Though Vecchi did have to be nervous about a draw, he never worried about a loss in this match and can now put on his CV that he has a 100% winning record in Serie A as Inter’s coach.
Stefano Vecchi kept his 4-4-1-1 formation from the Southampton loss. Danilo D’Ambrosio and Davide Santon flanked Miranda and Andrea Ranocchia, while Ivan Perisic replaced Eder on the left side to pair up with Antonio Candreva on the wings. Joao Mario and Marcelo Brozovic were the central midfield pair, while Ever Banega was positioned behind Mauro Icardi.
As expected when any decent side faces Crotone, Inter took control of possession while the away side parked the bus and looked for chances on the counter (that really didn’t come). Banega forced the first save of the match in the 7th minute but it wasn’t too challenging for Alex Cordaz. In the 20th minute Andrea Ranocchia picked up an injury and had to be replaced by Jeison Murillo. As Inter kept the ball the away side would position themselves well and force the home side to break them down. Perisic was quiet (and a bit rusty) but Candreva saw a lot of the ball and sent in a good number of crosses. The problem was every time the ball was sent into the box there were at least 5 or 6 Crotone players to clear it.
It looked like the home side had finally broken the deadlock in the 30th minute. Following a corner Candreva sent in a powerful volley that Cordaz couldn’t hold onto and D’Ambrosio was on hand to put the ball into the back of the net but the offside flag was raised. The player (and fans) were angry but replays showed the fullback was just barely offside. In the 32nd minute Miranda got a strong header from a corner but it was saved and in the 40th Brozovic tried one of his trademark curling shots from outside the box but he slipped at the last moment and the shot went just wide.
The home side went into the break with over 60% possession and Samir Handanovic needing to make no saves, but they were unable to score. It only looked a matter of time before Inter would take the lead but given the team’s luck in the past few weeks nobody was willing to place a bet on it.
The Nerazzurri emerged from the break the way they left, in fact they came back even hungrier carving out 3 fairly good chances in as many minutes. From a free kick Murillo headed just over the bar, then Perisic send Icardi a cross but his glancing header was saved, and finally Banega took a shot from outside the area that took a slight deflection and went wide. The fans quickly got behind their team as they could sense a goal was coming, and the team pushed Crotone further and further back so Santon and D’Ambrosio were almost always forward and Murillo and Miranda spent most of their time in Crotone’s half. Despite nearly all of the possession Inter was still unable to score. Every cross saw almost double the amount of away players in the box than home players, while for corners every single Crotone player was inside the box defending.
Vecchi made his last two changes of the game to send on Eder and Stevan Jovetic for Banega and Candreva. There was disappointment that Gabriel Barbosa still didn’t get a chance but with a new manager arriving in the near future he knows that he will have many opportunities to prove his worth to the new boss.
Just as it looked that the away side would be able to frustrate Inter and take away a point, the home side struck. On a fast break Icardi sent a perfect cross-field pass to Perisic, who had time and space to run into the box and beat Cordez with a low strike. 4 minutes later Inter had a second goal. Jovetic passed to Icardi in the box, and when he turned the Crotone player held and dragged the captain to the ground to concede a penalty. Icardi got up and tucked the ball into the bottom corner to guarantee the win to a symphony of cheers for him. Either the Curva’s boos were drowned out, the Ultras have decided to put their feud with the captain behind them, or they were so happy Inter was going to win that they didn’t care who scored.
The San Siro was rocking at this point but the home side wasn’t done yet. In the 93rd minute Icardi had the ball in the back of the net again. He was correctly flagged for being offside but he wouldn’t be denied his second goal of the match and scored again less than 60 seconds later. This time Eder made a driving run and cut the ball back for the Argentine striker to score and round off the match with a 3-0 win.
Since the team will have a new manager in the next day or so there can’t be any tactical takeaways from the match but there were some things to make Inter fans happy. It was nice to see that the team can constantly keep possession and attack for 90 minutes (even if it is against the last-placed side in the league). It was nice to watch a match where Handanovic doesn’t have to perform any heroics (or even have to do anything really). It was also nice to see the players smiling again and playing with a bit of confidence. Nobody knows what will happen with the new coach but that’s a worry for another day. For now let’s be glad that Inter is winning again.