For the second game in a row Inter Milan found itself taking part in a seven goal thriller which pushed the wild-barometer to the limits. Fortunately for our mental states, though, the result in this one was never in doubt from the 29th second onwards.
Much like the Fiorentina game, the action started immediately. This time, though, it was in favor of the good guys.
Inter controlled possession following the 30th-second strike but there were quite a few sloppy plays that a better team would have taken advantage of (cough, cough, Fiorentina). Even so, Inter doubled the scoreline in the 25th minute.
Benevento 0-2 Inter (Gagliardini with a lovely strike) assist by Young pic.twitter.com/DAfxa3hzq5— InterYaEuropaLeague (@InterELGoals) September 30, 2020
It didn’t take long for the back of the net to ripple once again via Lukaku’s second of the night in the 28th minute.
Benevento 0-3 Inter (Lukaku goal) Gagliardini assist pic.twitter.com/Ph1dkuIA8N— InterYaEuropaLeague (@InterELGoals) September 30, 2020
The mood dampened in the 34th minute after a Samir Handanovic error handed Gianluca Caprari a golden opportunity.
Hakimi, though, capped off his incredible half by restoring the three-goal lead in the 42nd minute.
Inter won everything from scoreline to statistics in the first forty-five. The Nerazzurri out possessed Benevento 66%-34%, while its 11 shots were almost three times as much as Le Streghe. Domination it was.
The level of play slowed after the restart, and understandably so considering the lopsided score. Even then there were chances at both ends. In the 49th minute, Gabriele Moncini hit the post with a low, driven shot on a counter, though Bryan Dabo was wide-open for a tap in. It was Inter’s turn to hit the woodwork in the 70th minute, with Gagliardini smashing the crossbar with a half volley.
That miss was soon rectified by Lautaro Martinez, who in fact had only entered play a couple of minutes prior.
LAUTARO MARTINEZ, 5-1 to Inter now. pic.twitter.com/m5DkCyPa9q— Condotti SMILEY (@Smiley_1932) September 30, 2020
Gianluca Caprari soon responded for Benevento, notching his brace in the 76th minute. Gianluca Lapadula was slipped in behind the Inter backline and laid the ball back to the center of the box where Caprari powered home.
Perisic had an excellent opportunity to reopen his Nerazzurri account but volleyed a Hakimi cross wide from point-blank. The chances kept coming, and this time Lapadula found himself in a one-on-one oath Handanovic. The keeper stood strong, and Lapadula’s weak chip failed to get past him.
There seems to be a common theme in recent Inter games. Goals, goals, and even more goals. And although Antonio Conte said he “enjoys watching the spectacle,” there are definitely some issues with this genre of Inter Milan. Namely, defense. What was the league’s best backline last year, with only 36 conceded, has already let in 5 from open play in two games against Fiorentina and Benevento. The simple solution would be for Conte to start Bastoni, Vrij, and Skriniar together rather than try to fit fullbacks into a back-three. It’s unlikely that will solve all of the problems, but considering that said fullbacks have been the weakest links so far, it had better be the case Sunday when the Nerazzurri travel to Lazio. It’s one thing to have the likes Lapadula or Caprari running at you, quite another when it’s Ciro Immobile and Luis Alberto.
On the other hand, going forward Inter has been lethal. Romelu Lukaku (3g) and Alexis Sanchez (2a) both picked up where they left off last season, while Lautaro (2g, 1a) is showing his quality after an up and down 2019/20. Obviously while such form is unsustainable, it is very promising and a good sign of things to come.
The biggest takeaway after two games is Achraf Hakimi. After not starting the season-opener due to lack of “readiness” according to Conte, he showed that the only people who aren’t ready are opposing left backs. With one goal and two assists so far, his speed and quality down the right flank has been a game-changer for Inter.
Handanovic - 5.5: The Slovenian made a terrible error that gifted Benevento it’s first, but couldn’t be blamed for any more. This game seemed like a good opportunity to start Andrei Radu and see what the 23-year-old is made of, but oh well.
Kolarov- 5: If nothing else, in two games Kolarov has proved that left center-back is not a position cut out for him. Being the left full back against Lazio would be a good move, but if he remains the CB, things could get ugly. His ball to Hakimi for the opener was incredible, though, and maybe outweighed the mistakes. Seriously, what a ball!
Vrij - 6: Nothing particularly stood out from the Dutchman’s game, but conceding twice to Benevento isn’t something one puts on their resume.
Skriniar - 6: Amid rampant transfer speculation, it was good to see Skriniar back in the starting eleven. Hopefully it’s a sign of the Slovak’s long term future at the San Siro.
Young - 7: Young did all that was asked of him down the left flank, while Hakimi was able to run riot on the opposite side. It may not have been a sexy signing, but picking him up midway through last season was a good piece of business from Conte.
Vidal - 6: The Chilean looked solid in his first start, but picked up what seems to be a thigh injury early in the second half. With luck, he recovers speedily, as Naingollan’s exit is looking more and more likely, for better or worse.
Gagliardini - 8: There’s been plenty of criticism of Gagliardini, and I’ll admit to hosting a good deal of it. There’s denying, though, that the Italian was excellent against Le Streghe. Perhaps at partial fault for Benevento’s opener, he more than made up for it with a beautiful volleyed strike and assist.
Sensi - 6: This was by and far not Sensi’s best in more ways than one. Still, the giveaways and such can be put down to rust, no more, no less.
Hakimi (Man of the Match) - 9: Hakimi showed that he deserves to start every time he can, to say the least. A great game all around from the Moroccan, with a goal and assist to go with a plethora of chances created. What a signing he’s been.
anchez - 8: The ex-Man United man has been instrumental for Inter so far, but the only criticism is for him to shoot more. On several occasions it seemed he could have bagged a goal, but instead opted for the pass.
Lukaku - 8: The Belgian was on his A-game Wednesday, but was surely disappointed by the lesser tempo in the second half considering he was on a hattrick.
Perisic - 5.5: The Inter Perisic seems to be a lot different than the Bayern one, and not in a good way. He missed a wonderful chance late in the game, but more than anything, I’m just upset because it robbed Hakimi of an assist.
Brozovic - 6: Like Perisic, another less than superb showing, and this time the Croatian was at fault for Lapadula’s chance in the second half. Hopefully just rust, but he could be distracted by a possible sale in the final few days of the transfer window
Eriksen - 6: Eriksen was on for just ten minutes, but still managed to ping the crossbar on a shot/cross. That was about it, though, thanks to the slow nature of the game and the length of his cameo.
Lautaro - 7: The Argentine came on in the 65th minute and let his presence be known, scoring Inter’s 5th with a tidy finish. Since the season has begun, he’s been one of the top performers.
Conte - 7: It was good to see Skriniar starting and subs to be made at ideal times. It was a bit disappointing not to see Pinamonti take the pitch, but that could be due to a potential departure on loan.
Until Sunday, and Forza Inter!