At the Stadio Adriatico Inter claimed its first win of the new Serie A season after a very underwhelming start to the campaign. Just. Pescara made life extremely difficult for the Nerazzurri, as was easily predictable, and took the lead through substitute Jean-Cristophe Bahebeck, but ultimately Massimo Oddo's side succumbed to the attacking dreadnought they were up against in the final quarter-hour and were left to rue a slightly severe 2-1 defeat. But who cares, we have Juventus next weekend so we just had to win this game by hook or by crook. We had to. And we did. Thank effing goodness for that. You can read a more detailed analysis of the match from Baraka here, while this article is dedicated to Inter's individual player (and manager) ratings.
Handanovic - 7.5
Super Samir played a huge role in Inter's match-winning display last night. After a quiet opening half-hour he made his first save of the night from Verre on the stroke of half-time, before reminding us in the second half just why we conceded so few goals in the opening months of last season. First Memushaj was denied from distance, then Verre from close range on the counter-attack, and then Bahebeck when the goal-scorer tried to score from a tight angle. And then came the save that should have been impossible, from the cross that Bahebeck feigned to shoot but actually left to trickle in at the far post. How Handa reacted in time to tip it behind I'll never know. There'll be a reason that no big club came in for him during the summer - again - but this was an excellent performance to which his team-mates are indebted greatly.
D'Ambrosio - 5.5
I have more time for D'Ambrosio than most Interisti, but if we don't qualify for the Champions League again this year it will be because we have people like him playing 25-30 games out of 38 in a season. He didn't overlap on Candreva once in the opening 35 minutes, and then when he did it twice in quick succession he crossed awfully on both occasions. Plus ça change. He started the second half better, with some determined offensive play and then a very nice run and shot before the hour-mark (although Perisic was free for a pass), but he would soon undo his hard work by completely losing Bahebeck in the box and allowing him to score. We can normally count on him to defend well more than we can with any of our other full-backs, but he screwed up badly on this occasion. He tries, but I could try for 90 minutes and you wouldn't want me playing at right-back either.
Miranda - 6.5
The one guarantee in what is looking like a very shaky defence in the early stages of this season, whom we cannot possibly afford to lose for injury or suspension anytime soon. Everything would crash and burn if it weren't for Miranda, although he did make a couple of small errors himself on Sunday night. He's not a ball-playing maestro, which became painfully evident on several occasions during the first half, but he is a wonderfully experienced professional who's doing his best in a high line that doesn't exactly play to his strengths. Not particularly at fault for Bahebeck's goal and could also have scored from Joao Mario's cross at the end of the first half.
Murillo - 5.5
It's either feast or famine with Jeison, such is his gung-ho style of defending that looks spectacular when it works and shameful when it doesn't. On Sunday night we saw both sides of the coin; he timed a couple of his signature aggressive interceptions perfectly - 'optimistic' defending, as Leonardo called it after the match - but was also embarrassed once by both Caprari and Bahebeck as Pescara charged at an unprepared back-line on the counter-attack. He wasn't at fault for the goal though. He isn't the worst ball-playing centre-back you'll find, but it's not enough to make our possession as fluid as De Boer would want. Another up and down performance from our very own defensive rollercoaster.
Santon - 5
It really is a mystery why we tried to sell Santon on three separate occasions this summer... ahem. The only thing greater than our need for a competent right-back at Inter is our need for a competent left-back, and on Sunday night's evidence Davide most certainly is not that, with all the affection I have for the sole-remaining (kind of) member of our Triplete squad. He got forward to help Perisic occasionally in the first half but he seemed very uncomfortable attacking on his left foot, frequently cutting inside onto his right and thus leaving Icardi starved of any decent crosses from the wing, while the less said about his second-half display the better. He is not a reliable defender, as his terribly meek attempt to stop Zampano crossing for Bahebeck demonstrated. Insufficient.
Joao Mario - 6
A solid if unspectacular debut for the €40m man, without any memorable moments but packed with useful team play that gives me encouragement for the future. Joao showed off his full repertoire of footballing ability in a lively first-half performance - neat dribbling, good crossing, an interesting passing range, positional awareness, off-the-ball work and cynicism when it's needed (he was booked after 22 minutes) - before declining in influence during the second half, where to me he seemed less involved as the game got more frantic. Flashes of quality and little continuity, but having only trained twice with the team I was pretty pleased with how he got on. His enforced exclusion from our Europa League squad should serve us very nicely indeed in Serie A, as he'll be fresh and ready to go every Sunday.
Medel - 5.5
Another typical Gary Medel performance. Lots of grit, lots of dirty work off the ball and a huge speed bump in all of our attacking play. He doesn't misplace many passes but that's because he takes so much time deciding where to send the ball, which makes it difficult for us to surprise our opponents as they have time to position themselves correctly. We really need someone in a deep position to take the ball off a fairly limited M&M partnership when it comes to creativity, and Gary is sadly not that person, but I wonder how much we would miss him in defense if he weren't in the team - we struggled enough with Pescara's counters as it was. I suspect (I hope) with time that Kondogbia takes this man's place in the starting XI.
Candreva - 5.5
Candreva has had far better games than this. 35 minutes passed between kick-off and his first meaningful contribution to our attacking play, at which point he enjoyed a good spell of link-up play between the lines with Banega, helping to create the double chance that Bizzarri kept out and executing a couple of risky back-heels that sped our possession play up (none of our skillful players took enough risks in the first half, making life reasonably straightforward for Pescara). He also got involved as we upped the anti after half-time, crossing well for Icardi to head over (his only cross of the game) before shooting from distance after cutting in off the wing (when he should have slid in Banega instead), but it was too little from a man of the Italian's quality. Subbed off with 15 minutes left after disappearing from sight again.
Banega - 6.5
Another good performance from our star signing, although he's still not quite the decisive, defense-splitting man we all hope he will become as the season progresses. Our best chance of the first half fell to Banega himself, with Bizzarri parrying his 20-yard effort and then denying Candreva on the rebound, when ideally it's meant to be him who slips in his team-mates for opportunities. He moved around our attacking third a lot in the opening 45 but with only one truly impressive piece of play, when he won the ball back high and crossed after nutmegging Brugman, but he played a crucial part in our late comeback after having started the second half in positive fashion. Icardi's header was stupendous but the cross was inch-perfect as well, while he also indirectly set up Maurito for the winner as his forward pass was headed to his feet. He would be worth a 7 in my opinion were it not for the fact that it was him who lost the ball 'stupidly' (De Boer's word, not mine) in the build-up to Pescara's goal - other than that though, good. He was playing in his correct position and it showed.
Perisic - 5
One of the quietest games I can remember Ivan having in a long time. He managed to stand up two or three nice crosses in the first half whenever someone was kind enough to actually give him the ball, but that really was it on a night where he never, ever got properly into the game. Santon did not help him with his lack of support, admittedly, but Perisic has shown too much in the past for us to be satisfied with this kind of performance. He worked hard when we didn't have the ball, as he always does, but we needed a lot more, as we did from all four of our wide players tonight. Replaced by Jovetic as part of the whacky triple change De Boer made on the 75-minute mark.
Icardi - 8
What more is there to say? 50 goals in Serie A for Inter now, and few of those have been more important than the two he bagged tonight. A defeat here could really have had dramatic consequences on the atmosphere surrounding the club, but thanks to his nigh-on infallibility inside the box we escaped with all three points. His meaningful touches of the ball in the first 76 minutes were as follows: a scuffed effort from a Perisic cross, a nice back-heel to put the ball round the corner for Candreva, a header just past the post shortly after half-time and another header over the bar from a corner. Not much, in other words - but he doesn't need to touch the ball much when he can do what he did in the final quarter of an hour. The equalizer was a magnificent header that few would have been capable of scoring, while the winner highlighted his ruthlessness in front of goal as Pescara's tired defense got themselves into a muddle. He disappears from the game at times, but enable him to do what he does best and you will not regret it. Thank goodness we didn't do what some Interisti were asking for in the summer and sell him to Napoli.
Palacio - 5
He makes the team play better with his exceptional movement, but then he misses chances like the two he spurned here and you wonder how he even made it past amateur level as a youngster. That's the frustrating Palacio paradox which we will probably never resolve.
Jovetic - 5
Came on, tried to dribble two people on his own and ended up frantically crossing into the box to nobody when he realized he couldn't. That was sort of it.
Eder - 5.5
He only had one meaningful touch of the ball when he came on, but it was a very nice one indeed as he slipped in Palacio for his gaping chance in the 90th minute. Nevertheless, his mere presence on the pitch was part of the late onslaught that eventually forced Pescara to cave in during stoppage time.
De Boer - 7
Frank won this with his triple substitution in the 75th minute - I don't think it's too much of an exaggeration to say that. The team had disbanded in worrying style after Pescara had gone in front and he knew his players needed a big shake-up, not just of a technical or tactical nature but also a psychological one. The players he brought on did not in themselves have a transcendental impact on the game, but the shot in the arm that he wanted to give the rest of his team by putting them all on simultaneously worked very well. I read from Dutch football experts when he arrived that his inability to read matches and change them from the bench is one of his greatest weaknesses, but this was a winning move, as it forced Pescara to defend deeper than Oddo wanted them to and eventually provoked a decisive mistake borne out of physical and mental fatigue. That aside, I think we can be reasonably satisfied of his work. The team is creating chances and pressing ever so slightly better than before, but we cannot keep giving up as many opportunities on the counterattack as we did here. Of course you have to take risks if you want to dominate the game, but big teams need balance first and foremost and we most definitely did not have it against Pescara. We could very easily have drawn or lost this game, but the only thing that counts now is that we won it, and it must be used as a springboard for the flurry of games we have coming up. Keep going Mister!