Palermo-Inter was, quite frankly, a rubbish game of football. It was wet, the stadium was half-empty and the pitch was dodgier than that maggots cheese thing they make in Sardinia, so the number of people who genuinely enjoyed themselves on Sunday afternoon could probably be counted on one hand, but ultimately all that mattered was the win and Inter duly got it. Stefano Pioli's side have now won six Serie A matches in a row thanks to Joao Mario's second-half strike and continue to chase down the sides lying above them in the table, despite Cristian Ansaldi's late sending off, which means our season is still just about alive. The match recap is available here while below are our player ratings for the match at the Stadio Renzo Barbera.
Samir Handanovic - 6
Eugenio Corini said Palermo didn't deserve to lose this match. Samir Handanovic would probably point out that he didn't have to make a single save in the entire 90 minutes. It's almost worth giving him a N/A, such was his inactivity.
Danilo D'Ambrosio - 6
It looked like Danilo's afternoon could turn nasty when he was booked midway through the first half for an avoidable foul, but he maintained his concentration until the final whistle and managed to save us from having to play with nine men. Is his attacking play getting slowly better or have I imagined that?
Jeison Murillo - 6.5
I really did think we'd lost Murillo for good until a month or so ago, but Pioli has done very well indeed to recover him along with several other players in the squad that seemed destined for the exit door. The wonder goal Jeison scored in midweek was definitive proof that his mojo has returned and he built on that performance in this match, even if Palermo offered him precious little trouble.
Miranda - 6.5
Next weekend's match against Pescara presents Pioli with an awkward decision to make. Miranda is one booking away from a suspension and after Pescara we have the game away to to Juventus, which would be five times more difficult without the Brazilian in the centre of defence. Does he rest him to avoid any risks? I suspect he won't, because generally coaches don't tend to think like that and we can't afford to drop cheap points at home, but he's back to his best after a bad period of form and that's clear for all to see. Very calm and collected.
Cristian Ansaldi - 5.5
The second booking was rather harsh so he can count himself a little unfortunate to be sent off, but I'm beginning to lose faith in Ansaldi coming good this season. He gets forward nicely sometimes, but on its own that doesn't really justify him playing for an Inter team that wishes to return to greatness. Lots of misplaced passes.
Roberto Gagliardini - 7
If one is an incident and two is a coincidence, three is almost always a pattern. It's quite scary to think that this guy had never played a single game for us until eight days ago, because he's already indispensable to the team and failed to put a foot wrong once again today. A priceless presence in the centre of midfield, and I hope he never leaves us.
Marcelo Brozovic - 6
In the last few weeks it seemed as if Brozo had learned how to manage his own energy levels throughout the 90 minutes, but there was a clear drop-off in the second half on this occasion. Some good work on the ball in the first 45 but he became more erratic as time passed.
Antonio Candreva - 6.5
11 of the goals we've scored in all competitions this season have involved this guy; 5 goals and 6 assists to be more precise, which is not bad going for a guy who was thought to be past his best when we signed him (I certainly feared he was). His cross for Icardi last Saturday was nothing short of glorious and this one wasn't much worse. Good performance from a real team player.
Ever Banega - 5
And still we wait. Banega was the guy we thought would transform us into a Champions League-level team this season but the reality so far has been totally different, and we didn't see many signs of improvements today. The winning move of the match was Pioli's decision to take him off after 55 minutes, and that doesn't reflect exceptionally on him. One of the few who doesn't appear to have improved since De Boer's departure.
Ivan Perisic - 5.5
He's scored a sackful of decisive goals this season but I'm still waiting for more from Perisic. His inconsistency is very frustrating and perhaps explains why he's never been targeted by any of Europe's really big clubs, because his raw qualities are stunning. Too many unforced errors and invisible periods in the game.
Mauro Icardi - 5.5
Not one of Mauro's finer afternoons. He hasn't scored away from home in the league since Empoli back in mid-September and wasted two glorious opportunities to do so here, kicking his first effort straight at Posavec and bewilderingly sending his second over the bar with the goal gaping. Difficult to remember many important contributions of his.
Joao Mario - 7
Does anyone care anymore how much we paid for him? Or that it was Kia Joorabchian who brought him here? Another match-winning performance from the reigning European champion, entering in our moment of need and scoring his second goal in an Inter shirt to secure the win. If he can add those forward runs into the box to the rest of his game then we really do have a serious footballer on our hands.
Geoffrey Kondogbia - 6.5
He didn't have much time to make an impact on the game, but he did everything that Pioli would have asked from him as a late substitute. We can finally count on Kondo and that is fantastic news.
Davide Santon - 6
He came on to sure up the defence after Ansaldi was sent off and helped his teammates see out the closing stages without any particular difficulty. Interesting that Pioli opted for him and not Yuto Nagatomo.
Stefano Pioli - 7
The performance wasn't spectacular but it didn't need to be on a day like this. Too many times in the past we have dropped points in matches such as this one, but at last there seems to be a mentality developing in the team and for that we have to thank Pioli. Inter have played better than this under his guidance but the legitimacy of this victory cannot possibly be questioned, with Palermo failing to muster a single shot on goal in 90 minutes and eventually conceding from one of the many we produced ourselves. He might have finished this match in the tunnel after being sent off in the aftermath of Ansaldi's red card, but he'll look back on it with fond memories in the knowledge that once again he changed the game with his substitutions in the second half. This run of form may not be enough to secure a Champions League spot, but regardless of where we finish this season you finally get the impression that something is being built for the future. For real this time.