It could have been the goal that quashed all doubt for Inter Milan.
Instead, it only seemed to make things worse.
An apparent goal in the 54th minute from Danilo D’Ambrosio was waived off by the video-assisted referee, but the Nerazzurri recovered as Lautaro Martinez found the back of the net in the 79th minute to give Inter a 1-0 win at Parma Saturday.
The win keeps Inter in third position in Serie A, nine points back of Napoli, following its 0-0 draw with Fiorentina. The Nerazzurri are five points clear of AS Roma and Lazio, who are tied for fourth. AC Milan are seven points back before they take on Cagliari Sunday.
It ended a three-match winless streak for Inter.
Offensively, Mauro Icardi continued his scoring drought – the Argentinian has not scored in a Serie A match since a penalty that gave Inter a 1-0 win over Udinese on Dec. 15. For what it’s worth, Icardi hasn’t scored a non-penalty goal since a 2-2 draw with AS Roma on Dec. 2.
An uneventful first half started with Parma building up offensively.
Juraj Kucka opened with a near miss in the 4th minute and Roberto Inglese had a shot in the 10th minute blocked away.
Inter didn’t put their first attempt on goal until the 19th minute when Radja Nainggolan fired from distance, but missed wide to the right.
For most of the first half, Inter played the ball out of the back half of the pitch.
But, Inter was plagued with a lack of finishing in the final third.
In some instances, when the Nerazzurri built up offensively, they were left with just Mauro Icardi in the box, limiting the attacking options.
On top of that, final touches in threatening situations yielded nothing as final crosses in our passes into the area were either off-target or completely out of the reach of any Inter player threatening.
Parma had what turned out to be the best opportunity to score in the first half when Gervinho had a ball in from Antonino Barillia in the 21st minute. As Gervinho eyed the back of the net, his shot went off the crossbar of the goal and fell out of play.
The Nerazzurri stepped up its attack in the latter part of the first half as Ivan Perisic – making his first start in two matches – attempted a difficult shot that was saved by Luigi Sepe in the 34th minute.
Icardi had an attempt a few seconds later, but his blast went high and to the right.
Joao Mario had a nearly open look at goal in the closing minutes of the first half, but whiffed his first attempt at a shot.
You'd say it's unfortunate but Joao Mario has done this about 20 times pic.twitter.com/NJEVdzD4IE— InterYaSkriniar (@InterYaMedia) February 9, 2019
Inter controlled possession for most of the first half and collected five shots to Parma’s six. But, it was weak finishing that hurt Inter the most in the first 45 minutes.
Nainggolan threatened in the opening minutes of the second half with a nice play that found him one-on-one with Sepe, but the Parma goalkeeper cut out the space and forced the Belgian midfielder to shoot right to him in the 48th minute.
A minute later, there was almost a resurgence of the Perisic-Icardi combination after Perisic crossed in and found Icardi, but Icardi’s header was too strong and went left of goal. It was one of the first times in recent memory that the combination nearly yielded a goal for the Nerazzurri.
Perisic nearly connected with Icardi again in the 52nd minute, but Icardi’s touch was heavy and the ball was cleared out of danger.
Finally, in the 54th minute, D’Ambrosio seemed to end the drought for Inter. A strong corner kick from Marcelo Brozovic found D’Ambrosio streaking in from six yards out. It seemed the cross found D’Ambrosio’s head and past Sepe, but the video-assisted referee overruled the goal as a review found the ball went off D’Ambrosio’s arm rather than his head.
The wind appeared to be taken out of Inter’s sails after that.
Despite continuing to apply pressure, the pressure Inter had was lackluster and typically contained just Icardi in the box swarmed by Parma’s defense.
Finally … finally … it happened.
Just minutes after coming in as a substitute for Joao Mario, Martinez scored Inter’s first goal of the year after Nainggolan drove ahead and slotted a great pass to Martinez who was streaking toward the right.
Martinez took the first touch and shot across his body and into the back of the net, putting Inter Milan up 1-0 in the 79th minute.
It was Martinez’s first Serie A goal since netting the Boxing Day winner against Napoli. He had scored twice in a 6-2 win over Benevento in the Coppa Italia in January.
That seemed to put a spark in Inter’s attack.
Matias Vecino nearly doubled the lead minutes later with a curling shot that went just wide. In the 85th minute, Vecino had another attempt off his knee, but he could not connect with a virtually open goal.
Inter will travel to Austria to take on Rapid Wien in the first of two legs in the Europa League round of 32. They will kick off at 12:55 p.m. EST Thursday, Feb. 14. After that, they will return to the Giuseppe Meazza to face Sampdoria in Serie A play on Sunday, Feb. 17.
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