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Sassuolo 0-1 Inter Milan: Player Ratings

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I almost forgot what it feels like to pick up an away win.

In a weekend that saw all eight of the teams above Inter in the Serie A table facing each other in four heavyweight matches, Stefano Pioli and co. had a golden chance against an injury-ravaged Sassuolo to recover some of the points that were lost in our horrid start to the season, and thankfully that's exactly what they did by bringing home a comfortable(-ish) 1-0 victory. Antonio Candreva's goal at the start of the second half was enough to secure our first away win in all competitions since 21 September - almost three months! - which also came with the added bonus of a second consecutive clean sheet, thus keeping our extremely slim hopes of salvaging the 2016-17 campaign alive for another few days at least. Below are our player ratings for Sunday afternoon's match at the Mapei Stadium, while if it's a more general review that you're looking for then Baraka's recap is available here.

Players

Samir Handanovic - 6.5

He didn't have a huge amount to do in a match that we had control of for long periods, but he answered the two big questions that were asked of him with good saves on Defrel in the first half and Sensi in the second. Thankfully this was one of his less action-packed afternoons though.

Danilo D'Ambrosio - 6.5

He certainly isn't Maicon, as he once infamously reminded us last season, but Danilo has impressed me nonetheless in recent weeks and put in another solid performance at the back today. He was concentrated pretty much for 90 minutes and seems to be one of the men who's trying the hardest at the moment, sliding fairly well between right-back and third center-back in Pioli's more elastic style of play.

Miranda - 6

It wasn't the busiest of afternoons for Miranda, as Sassuolo failed to cause us huge problems before their desperate final assault in injury time, but he did everything he needed to do with calmness and experience. I could kid myself into thinking that he has overcome his period of horrific form, but it's probably too early to say that the worst is definitively behind us.

Jeison Murillo - 5

I'm getting pretty tired of having to say the same things about Murillo every week, but if his performances are essentially the same every week then there's nothing I can do about that. The player we enjoyed watching at the back end of 2015 is but a distant memory, replaced since then by a poor body double who suffers too many lapses in concentration and is consistently the weakest link in our defense. It didn't cost us today, and admittedly he improved as the game went on, but it's still very frustrating that he has turned into this.

Antonio Candreva - 7.5

Man of the Match without a shadow of the doubt. At this moment in time Candreva is probably the most dependable player we have in the team, leading by example today in terms of application and enterprise and providing the all-important winning goal just after the restart. Almost all of the truly dangerous moves we put together in this match went through him, with his personal highlight being the delightful cross for Icardi in the first half. Some people had doubts about signing him but he's repaying Inter's faith in him.

Marcelo Brozovic - 6.5

Not perfect, but a more than sufficient performance all the same. He lost the ball cheaply on a couple of occasions and picked up an avoidable booking in the second half, but just like Candreva he's becoming a fundamental part of the team and cannot possibly be dropped. Had Perisic not frozen in front of goal right at the end then his display would have been capped with an assist, but it wasn't to be.

Felipe Melo - 6

Up until the 92nd minute he had produced one of his best performances in an Inter shirt (although admittedly, there isn't exactly stiff competition for that accolade), but unfortunately he got himself sent off in stoppage time and will now miss Wednesday's game at home to Lazio. It tells you a lot about the season we're having that we might actually miss someone like Felipe Melo in the center of midfield - saying that makes me feel slightly sick - but he had an important role to play in this victory by guaranteeing some much-needed physicality and balance. Oh well.

Cristian Ansaldi - 6.5

This was more like the Ansaldi I thought we'd be signing in the summer, i.e. more like the one who shone at Genoa in the second half of last season. He seemed to have a good day both in defense and in attack, conceding little up against Ricci and Lirola and getting forward whenever he could to help us create our own chances. If he plays to his potential then he's definitely the least bad option we have in the full-back department.

Joao Mario - 6.5

He confirmed the personal progress that we've been seeing under Pioli in recent weeks, with a discreet first half in the trequartista role and a decisive second half. Candreva's goal came courtesy of his individual initiative on the edge of the Sassuolo box (officially the assist is Icardi's, but really it was all his doing), while for the rest of the match he added quality to our possession and counter-attacks. Definitely looks more comfortable in this position than in the deeper role he started in against Genoa. Unfortunately he was booked just before going off and will also miss the Lazio match, returning to the team in 2017.

Ivan Perisic - 5

The worst Inter player on the pitch. I honestly can't think of anything clever or useful that he did in the entire match, but unfortunately it's not the first performance of this kind that we've seen from Ivan this season. Whenever he had the ball at his feet he seemed to slow the team down, taking too long to decide what he should do and then often making the wrong decision, and of course he also missed three gilt-edged chances that would have made our afternoon much more comfortable. If he had excuses on the first two, the last miss really was poor - how much time did he want to sort his feet out?!

Mauro Icardi - 5.5

Incredibly, this was our first away win of 2016 (in Serie A) in which someone other than Icardi had scored a goal, and that was just as well because Mauro was very quiet for the majority of this match. He had that one opportunity from Candreva's cross in the first half, but for the rest of the afternoon he was an isolated figure up front and received very little service. And yet he still ended up with an assist, as it was his unintentional deflection that set up Candreva to score at the far post.

Substitutes

Ever Banega - 6

He came on after Joao Mario was booked to reduce the risk of having to finish the game with 10 men (although in the end that happened anyway), and to help us control the ball better in the closing stages of the match. Both of those orders were followed, but obviously we expect a lot more from a man of Banega's quality. Please let's not sell him in January though, because that would be simply stupid.

Gabriel Barbosa - N/A

He lives! After being held in captivity for the best part of three months Pioli gave him a very brief run out at the end of the match, which was nevertheless enough time to be caught offside and get booked for kicking the ball away after the referee had blown his whistle. A quite excellent cameo appearance for the €30m man, it must be said.

Manager

Stefano Pioli - 7

This win ended up being less comfortable than it should have been, but it was still absolutely deserved and enables us to build on the victory over Genoa last Sunday. Pioli seems to have found a decent balance to the team with this new 4-2-3-1/3-4-2-1 hybrid system, and on this occasion he also picked the right men to be put in it, with Joao Mario's advanced position proving more of a success than when he had put him in central midfield alongside Brozovic last weekend. We still conceded a couple of easy opportunities thanks to some defensive distractions, but in general I can see what he is trying to do and most importantly I can see some small improvements being made. Perhaps he could have taken Melo off before he picked up a second yellow card, because you know that it's always a risk with him, and perhaps Barbosa could have come on earlier given how badly Perisic was doing, but he got most of his decisions right and can be pleased with how the team performed.