Inter were home today against an Atalanta side that has been the surprise team of the league so far this season. Going into the match, Atalanta were actually ahead of Inter in the standings by a point and must have been hoping to further their lead on their Bergamo rival. This was not to be, as Inter quickly stormed out to a monstrous lead and never relinquished control of the match. This was the second week in a row, that Inter Milan have thrashed our opponents and sent a message to the rest of the league.
Somewhat unsurprisingly, Pioli decided to field the same starting eleven that produced the beat down at Cagliari last week. Samir Handanovic was in goal with both Gary Medel and Miranda serving as the central defensive pairing. On either side of the center backs, Danilo D'Ambrosio and Christian Ansaldi protected the flanks, while Geoffrey Kondogbia and Roberto Gagliardini shielded the defense from the midfield. Antonio Candreva, Ever Banega, and Ivan Perisic all supported our captain Mauro Icardi up front to complete the 4-2-3-1 formation.
The opening couple of minutes provided an early example of what to expect for the rest of the match. Candreva, as he did many times throughout the game, managed to find space and deliver an enticing cross into the box from the flank. Perisic was merely inches away from opening the scoring as he was unable to reach this golden opportunity.
The next ten or so minutes were hotly contested as Atalanta high pressure system was forcing Inter to make mistakes. This was until the fifteenth minute when Rafael Toloi tripped Icardi from behind on the edge of the box. Banega, who scored a direct free kick in our previous encounter against Cagliari, stepped up to take the free-kick. Banega's kick slammed against the wall and bounced fortunately right into the path of Icardi who slotted the ball past Etrit Berisha for the first goal of the game.
Shortly after, Icardi broke through on goal again only to be taken out this time by Etrit Berisha. Icardi stepped up to take the ensuing penalty and calmly chipped the ball into the net for his second of the night. This was not the end for Icardi who wrapped up his hat trick moments later when Banega crossed in a beautiful ball after receding a corner kick on the edge of the box. Icardi soared past the Atalanta defenders to head the ball in and complete his hat-trick within a nine minute span.
Already up by three goals with close to twenty minutes still left to play in the half, Inter continued to push forward for even more goals. Twice, Candreva escaped down the right flank and sprinted towards the byline and on both occasions he cut the ball back brilliantly for Banega to slam in from close distance. Just like that Banega had a first half brace and Inter were up by an astounding five goals.
Atalanta did not simply give up as they managed to strike back before the half ended. Remo Freuler managed to beat not one but two different Inter players quite easily on his way to scoring a goal. There was nothing Handanovic could do to prevent this goal as the defending was atrocious in the build up to Freuler's goal.
The second half was never going to live up to the six goal first half in terms of excitement level, but it was still fun to watch. The free flow scoring was not over and soon enough, Inter were back on the score sheet.
In his return to Atalanta, Roberto Gagliardini scored against his former team. Again, Inter found success by running down the flank and rolling the ball across goal and this time Roberto Gagliardini was there to smash the ball into the top of the net. His respect for his former club meant that he did not celebrate, but this marks his second goal in the last the two games which is something all Inter fans are celebrating.
The final goal of the game came via a beauty of a free-kick from Banega. With this goal, his superb performance somehow got even better as he completed his hat-trick and got the seventh goal of the game for Inter. Banega managed to trick Berisha from a free-kick by whipping the ball to the side that Berisha was covering. The beautiful curler of a goal turned out to be the final goal of the encounter even though there were a few more opportunities.
Both Banega and Icardi got to walk off the pitch today to standing ovations and the team as a whole put in a master class performance. It is hard to imagine that this is the same team that two weeks ago was thwarted by Roma. The team is officially rolling again with twelve goals in two games and are showing signs that success may be relatively close in the future.