We’ve seen some wild football played by Inter Milan in it’s first two outings of the season, so a relatively tame 1-1 draw against Lazio came as a bit of a surprise. Emphasis on “relatively”, though, as this one sure had some fireworks.
This Sunday afternoon match started quietly with Inter having the vast majority of possession, but failing to create much. One chance is all that’s needed to score, however, and Inter got that opportunity in the 30th minute. The Nerazzurri’s first shot on target was a goal, as Lautaro Martinez continued his superb form with a little help via some subpar netminding from the Lazio goalkeeper.
Lazio 0-1 Inter (Lautaro Martinez) pic.twitter.com/RjOvpkMNiO— InterYaEuropaLeague (@InterELGoals) October 4, 2020
That was the only major action of a first half that saw Inter hold 60% of possession. Lazio was completely shut out of the game offensively but did enough in the back to keep Inter from getting anywhere near extending its lead. The Nerazzurri took five shots and only one, the goal, landed on target. Also of note was what seemed to be a revolving door on Lazio’s left flank. Lazio Simone Inzaghi had three injuries to deal with, all on defenders. Clearly Lukaku and Hakimi are quite a handful.
Inter started the second half with several half chances to double its lead, but none found the target. That would prove fateful as Lazio equalized in the 55th minute out of the blue. A Francesco Acerbi cross found Sergej Milinković-Savić at the back post. The Serbian easily out jumped Ivan Perisic and then directed a header down and into the back of the net. Samir Handanovic allowed himself to be beaten at his near post, going down as yet another instance where we would expect more from the veteran keeper.
All of the momentum was with Lazio, and it showed on the pitch. Inter, though, was given a “get out of jail free” card in the 69th minute. This rather peculiar sequence resulted in a straight red for Ciro Immobile, while despite instigating it all, Arturo Vidal only picked up a yellow.
Inter began pushing for a winner but looked lost for ideas in the final third. The closest it came was a deflected Marcelo Brozovic from distance trickled off the post. Moments later both teams were reduced to ten when Stefano Sensi was punished with a red himself. Patric stepped in front of Sensi when he was trying to take a quick throw-in, but the Italian slapped out and made contact with the chest/lower face of Patric. It seemed very much like the referee was trying to make amends for Immobile’s sending off rather than actually punish a red card deserving action. Why VAR wasn’t checked remains a mystery.
The twenty remaining players failed to find any sort of late miracle and for the first time since 2017 this fixture ended in a draw.
This result certainly seems like a disappointment considering how the game went about, but in reality a draw at Lazio is nothing to be ashamed of even as the Nerazzurri fall behind Milan and Atalanta at the top of the table. Those two sides have picked up maximum points so far, while Inter is on seven.
The game seemed to swing on a pendulum, all in Inter’s direction the first half, Lazio’s after the equalizer, and Inter’s again when Immobile was red carded. Neither side was able to take advantage of when it had control, though Inter will be much more frustrated as it was in the drivers seat the majority of the time. It failed to convert that into chances, though, with only three shots on target out of twelve total. Credit to Lazio for refusing to bow down even when dealt with injury after injury and wave after wave of Inter possession.
Handanovic - 5: It’s a shame seeing what is likely the 36-year-old’s final season at the San Siro end this way, but it seems as though each game brings a different error from Handanovic that is at partial fault for a goal. The sooner we see what Andrei Radu is capable of, the better.
Bastoni - 6: Seeing what is hopefully the first choice back three start together was a good sigh, and even better is the performance. Although a shutout remains elusive, this was a lot better than the Fiorentina and Benevento games all while against a much deadlier opponent. I doubt the defensive struggles we’ve seen so far are over the hill just yet, but there’s no denying that a step in the right direction was taken versus Lazio.
Vrij - 6: ^
Skriniar - 6: ^
Perisic - 5.5: It may be time to accept that the Croatian can’t be a wingback in this formation, especially if Hakimi is gracing the opposite flank. Perisic’s attacking quality is there for all to see, but it’s not worth what’s sacrificed in the back. Young and Kolarov are perfectly adequate replacements, but this team would be transformed with a top-notch left wingback.
Barella - 6: The 23-year-old looked out of position, played like he was out of position, and it turns out he was in fact out of position. Barella’s talents are wasted at trequarista, and playing him there while you have Christian Eriksen on the bench is something no coach should ever be allowed to do.
Vidal - 7 (Man of the Match): Vidal, contrastingly, was excellent. The Chilean stopped numerous Lazio counterattacks before they ever became attacks and was an all-round presence in the center of the park. His heatmap stretched almost from box to box. Conte’s desire to pick him up has been justified so far. Vidal also expertly baited Immobile into a red, and his cheeky smile as he was substituted said it all.
Gagliardini - 6: Unlike the Benevento game, nothing spectacular from the 26-year-old.It wasn’t really clear what Conte was trying to accomplish with the midfield he selected, and Gagliardini exemplified that.
Hakimi - 6.5: Hakimi wasn’t able to have the same impact he had in games past, but still was a threat down the flank. The second half was particularly disappointing, as with the opposing full-back on a yellow, the pickings seemed ripe for another Hakimi masterclass. Unfortunately lack of service killed those hopes, but the early returns seem promising from the Moroccan’s time in Milan.
Lautaro - 7: The Argentine has been on fire since the season began, notching 3 goals in as many games. Yesterday wasn’t his all-round best, but that wasn’t entirely his fault, rather a lack of penetration to threatening areas from Inter as a whole.
Lukaku - 6: With just one shot, and few touches in the positions he usually finds himself, Lukaku was unable to do much other than indirectly injure Lazio players.
Conte - 5.5: It never seems to go well when Inter tries to play a 3-4-1-2 without Eriksen, and it was no different this time. You would hope by now Conte would have learned his lesson, but you never know considering he’s still too hesitant to make subs. After Lazio scored and had all the momentum, it seemed like the perfect time to bring on Sanchez and Eriksen to change things up. Instead, he waited too long and by the time Sanchez came on, it was too late for him to do much.
With this the first segment of Inter’s season comes to a close, as it’s time for international football. We now must sit tight until Serie A resumes. Then, though, the fixtures come thick and fast, starting with a mouth-watering Derby Della Madonnina and the start of the Champions League. Those two weeks can’t pass fast enough!