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Absent Attack: Inter Milan falls 1-0 in opener at Sassuolo

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Nerazzurri vaulted attack fails to connect at Mapei Stadium.

US Sassuolo v FC Internazionale - Serie A
Mauro Icardi of FC Internazionale and Gian Marco Ferrari of US Sassuolo in action during the Serie A match between US Sassuolo and FC Internazionale at Mapei Stadium - Citta’ del Tricolore on August 19, 2018 in Reggio nell’Emilia, Italy.
Photo by Giuseppe Bellini/Getty Images

All eyes were on Inter Milan in their season opener at US Sassuolo. More particularly, eyes were looking to see just how Inter’s new acquisitions would work together on the pitch.

Keep in mind, it is just the first game, but the eyes might have been a bit disappointed as Inter Milan played Mauro Icardi, Lautaro Martinez, Matteo Politano and eventually Ivan Perisic to no avail as a penalty in the first half gave Sassuolo all three points Sunday with a 1-0 win at the Mapei Stadium.

It is the third straight season-opening clean sheets for Sassuolo and the seventh win in 11 matches against Inter Milan.

US Sassuolo v FC Internazionale - Serie A
Ivan Perisic of FC Internazionale and Alfred Duncan of US Sassuolo competes for the ball during the Serie A match between US Sassuolo and FC Internazionale at Mapei Stadium - Citta’ del Tricolore on August 19, 2018 in Reggio nell’Emilia, Italy.
Photo by Giuseppe Bellini/Getty Images

The first half seemed like Inter could not connect on anything. Poor passing, misplayed marking and shoddy overall performance seemed to doom the Nerazzurri from the start.

After a lackluster start to the game, Inter Milan came out with a little more intensity in the second half.

Down 1-0 after a first-half penalty by Dominico Berardi, Nerazzurri boss Luciano Spalletti brought in Ivan Perisic — who did not start — for Dalbert as Spalletti went to a back three defensively and moving Kwadwo Asamoah further up front.

Perisic — who was resting following his World Cup performance — started to make an impact up front, testing Andrea Consigli in the 47th minute.

Marcelo Brozovic — who started in midfield along with Matias Vecino — drilled a shot off his right foot following a great display of skill by Asamoah in the 57th minute., but Brozovic’s attempt sailed into the fifth-row of the stands.

US Sassuolo v FC Internazionale - Serie A
Danilo D’Ambrosio of FC Internazionale in action during the Serie A match between US Sassuolo and FC Internazionale at Mapei Stadium - Citta’ del Tricolore on August 19, 2018 in Reggio nell’Emilia, Italy.
Photo by Giuseppe Bellini/Getty Images

Three minutes later, Matteo Politano drilled a delivery way outside the area against his former team, but his shot went well wide of Consigli.

Kevin-Prince Boateng nearly doubled Sassuolo’s lead in the 65th minute with a nice look in front of the net, but Samir Handanovic poked the shot away.

On the counter, Perisic connected with Mauro Icardi in front of Consigli, but like Boateng, Icardi’s delivery couldn’t find the back of the net.

In the 80th minute, a free kick by Perisic found its way into the area, but Stefan De Vrij was whistled for a foul after trying to take down his mark.

De Virj nearly equalized in the 90th minute, but his header off a long pass was pushed aside by Consigli.

Within the first three minutes of the match, it was Sassuolo who attempted to press offensively as Mehdi Bourabia found an open lane down the left side and tested Samir Handanovic, but the Inter keeper was able to poke the shot aside and out of danger.

Inter did recover with a strong counterattack but former Sporting standout Lautaro Martinez was tripped at midfield by Alfred Duncan. The subsequent free kick, found Mauro Icardi in the area, but his header was just off the mark in the seventh minute.

The Nerazzurri defense — playing without Milan Skriniar — continued to be tested, but the combination of Stefan De Virj, Miranda, Dalbert and Danilo D’Ambrosio was able to turn back early attempts at goal.

The biggest concern over the first 10 minutes of the half was the fact that Inter’s offense — lauded with Martinez and Icardi starting — failed to mount any serious threat to Sassuolo.

Another concern came by way of the Inter midfield. Spalletti elected to start Marcelo Brozovic and Matias Vecino in the center, but in the first 20 minutes of the match, the midfield was rife with dispossessions, poor passing and ineffective ball movement.

In the 25th minute, Inter’s mistakes finally caught up with them as Miranda drew a yellow card after fouling Federico Di Francesco in the area, resulting in a penalty.

Berardi buried the penalty kick to give Sassoulo a 1-0 lead in the 28th minute.

Near the end of the first half, Asamoah looked to draw a penalty in the Sassuolo area, but there was no call and Inter went into halftime down 1-0.

Inter will now prepare for its home opener at the San Siro at 2:30 p.m. (ET) Sunday, Aug. 26 as they will host Torino, who lost 1-0 to AS Roma on the opening day.


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