Inter played hosts to Pescara today with the home side seeking a seventh straight Serie A victory over the only team in Serie A (and the top 5 European leagues) to not have a win on the pitch so far this season. Most would expect this to be the simplest of victories but knowing Inter nothing is certain. Luckily the match ended up going just the way most would have predicted and Inter won without having to work too hard in the second half.
Stefano Pioli stuck with the 4-2-3-1 that has worked so well for him so far this season. Despite being a booking away from a suspension, Miranda partnered with Gary Medel at the heart of the defense being flanked by Danilo D’Ambrosio and Yuto Nagatomo (who replaced the suspended Ansaldi). Marcelo Brozovic partnered Roberto Gagliardini while Antonio Candreva, Joao Mario, and Ivan Perisic supported Mauro Icardi.
The first real chance of the match occurred in the 13th minute when a Gagliardini cross found Miranda unmarked at the far post but the Brazilian could only put it wide. From there Inter began to really assert their dominance, controlling possession and passing the ball around the Pescara half of the pitch. The away side was being forced to defend close and closer to their own goal but Inter wasn’t testing Albano Bizzarri. Then in the 23rd minute disaster nearly struck. Grigoris Kastanos forced Samir Handanovic into making a save and the rebound fell kindly for Valerio Verre to score but luckily the Italian was in an offside position.
Pescara might have thought their luck was bad after the goal was disallowed but it was about to get worse. Immediately following that attempt Joao Mario forced Bizzarri into making a save and from the resulting corner, Marcelo Brozovic send in a cross to the far post for the onrushing D’Ambrosio to volley into the back of the net. The defending on that goal was quite bad, Inter’s fullback found himself unmarked for the goal and even if he hadn’t be able to convert Joao Mario was right behind him (also unmarked) ready to put in the easy opportunity.
After Gagliardini missed a free header a few minutes later, both teams saw defenders make nearly-costly errors. First Miranda played a weak pass that was ripe for the interception but Medel was able to clear the ball in time. Then Francesco Zampano made the schoolboy mistake of playing the ball across the face of his box, allowing Joao Mario to get in and forcing goalkeeper intervention twice. The rest of the half saw Inter in cruise control, passing and probing around the Pescara area while the away side tried to keep the deficit at one goal as well as attempting a counter if Inter played a poor pass or allowed the ball to be stolen away. In the 43rd minute their defenses were breached again. Icardi found Perisic out wide and his drilled ball was too quick for the diving Bizzarri and Joao Mario was in the center of the box for the simplest of tap-ins. The first half ended 2-0 in favor of the Nerazzurri.
While there were no changes at the break, the style of play went down a notch. Inter began to relax a bit, allowing Pescara to have more possession and being a bit sloppier in their possession. Though the home side had a two goal advantage they seemed to be playing with fire, and got a real wake-up call in the 59th minute when a failed attempt to be cute playing the ball out the back saw Handanovic have to save attempts from Jean-Christophe Bahebeck and Verre. The home side seemed to realize that the game was actually still going on and put in more effort to stifle Pescara’s attempts to get back into the match.
In the 71st minute Stefano Pioli went to his bench and showed his magic touch once again. The Inter manager sent on Eder for Perisic and within two minutes the substitute had scored. Eder started a counterattack from the edge of his own penalty area, stormed up the pitch and found Joao Mario who played in an (offside) Mauro Icardi. The (offside) captain then squared the ball for Eder to tap-in, extending the lead to 3-0 and killing off the match. The rest of the match was really a formality. Pioli sent on Gabriel Barbosa in the 76th minute and the Brazilian youngster played some fancy flicks but also put in a few tackles. The fans cheered his every touch and it was a nice way to end the match.
This was pretty much best-case scenario for Inter. Gagliardini continued his mind-boggling run of impressive performances since his arrival at the club, Miranda played without picking up a yellow card, and Handanovic had an easy night between the sticks. Gabriel Barbosa and Eder both got minutes and it is easy to see that confidence and morale is high among the team, even among those who don’t start very often. 3 points, a second half that didn’t require much hard running, a clean sheet, and leapfrogging Lazio into 4th place. What more can you ask for?