Dominating possession. Driving the tempo of the match. All of these things, if working in your favor, should lead to victory on the pitch.
However, despite controlling possession 58 percent of the match and tallying 13 shots – four on target, Inter Milan’s offense came up short in a 0-0 draw with Sassuolo to open the 2019 portion of the Serie A campaign.
Inter’s attack started weakly and, despite finding some rhythm, never found sync as Sassuolo continued to be a thorn in the Nerazzurri’s side.
Coming into the match, Sassuolo had won seven of their last eight meetings with Inter Milan and Saturday continued the frustration.
“It was a tough night because they played a good game,” said Inter coach Luciano Spalletti, in his post-match news conference. “We couldn’t control the game. Even when we did well to get the ball back, we then lost it again too quickly meaning that we were unable to make the most of the moment and get men over. We needed to do better in those situations before their defense could settle in place. We didn’t have enough quality on the ball and you need that against sides like Sassuolo who run a lot.”
In the first half it was Sassuolo who dominated. Inter looked disconnected, making poor passes and errant decisions in the front third of the pitch.
Dominco Berardi had the first attempt at goal in the fifth minute, but despite Kevin-Prince Boateng’s ball in, Berardi missed his shot wide to the left.
Manuel Locatelli tried his luck nine minutes later, but his shot also went to the left.
Inter finally got its first shot on goal when Marcelo Brozovic crossed in a ball, but Matias Vecino’s header went just over the bar.
Boateng had one of the best attempts on goal early on with a curling shot from outside the area in the 20th minute, but Samir Handanovic was able to parry the ball away and out of danger.
Finally, the Nerazzurri seemed to get on track and they started to pepper Sassuolo’s goal a bit more.
Matteo Politano had a header delivered from Vecino pushed over the top of goal by Andrea Consigli in the 31st minute.
Ivan Perisic had Inter’s second opportunity at goal in the 33rd minute when Politano found him in the box, but Perisic’s attempt went to the right of Consigli and the goal.
The Nerazzurri continued to push the game as Vecino and Brozovic each had shots fall just short of the target in the 40th minute.
In the first half, the one thing Sassuolo was able to do well was neutralize Mauro Icardi. The Argentinian striker barely touched the ball in the entire first half as Sassuolo’s defense smothered him almost before he could even get the ball on a pass.
Despite dominating possession, Inter managed just seven shots with two on target while Sassuolo’s strong first half of the period yielded them nine shots, two on target.
To start the second half, it was Boateng who started the press for Sassuolo with a strong header that Handanovic was able to handle.
Icardi, who was contained in the second half, much like the first half, finally got a shot on in the 71st minute when Danilio D’Ambrosio placed a ball right to him, but his heading attempt went left of goal.
Coming on in substitution, Lautaro Martinez needed just two minutes before trying to give Inter a win. In the 83rd minute, his header from D’Ambrosio’s cross, nearly missed and was collected by Consigli.
In extra time, both teams started to flurry with Jeremie Boga testing Handanovic to no avail and Mehdi Bourabia nearly rebounded the shot back into the net, but his shot was thwarted. Radja Nainggolan, who came off the bench, had his attempt in extra time blocked back.
Inter will remain in third regardless of finales of Sunday’s matchups. They will return to action on Jan. 27 when they will travel to Torino.
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