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Inter Milan 3-3 Sassuolo: Wild thriller ends in disappointment

Well, that was bonkers

Internazionale v Sassuolo - Italian Serie A Photo by Mattia Ozbot/Soccrates/Getty Images

When Inter Milan meets Sassuolo there’s one thing you can be sure of: goals, goals and more goals. The latest installment in this action packed matchup was a wild and wacky 3-3 draw at the San Siro. I’ll give you time to prepare yourself to relive that experience by taking a look at the starting lineups. Both sides made many changes from their previous games, with Sassuolo completely revamping its midfield and defense while Inter spread out the rotation across the pitch.

Inter’s Starting XI
Sassuolo’s Starting XI

Sassuolo got off to a dream start, taking the lead just four minutes in thanks to Francesco Caputo’s 14th of the season. Filip Đuričić picked up the ball in midfield and drove towards Inter’s backline before slipping Caputo into a one on one with Handanovic. The Neroverdi’s leading scorer made no mistake, and for once the noise level in the San Siro was identical to what it would have been with fans in the building.

Inter had no luck finding an equalizer. The attack looked off kilter, in stark comparison to the fantastic performance of last Sunday. Instead, it was Sassuolo that looked most likely to score again via one of its many speedy counters, but Inter’s defense did enough to keep the deficit at one. Eventually, though, Inter did start to put pressure on Sassuolo and create a few half-chances. It would take a slightly questionable penalty call to level things up, however.

Near the edge of the box, Jeremie Boga went to clear a loose ball, but Skriniar snuck in front of Boga, and was kicked in the Achilles by the Frenchman. Despite being a centre back, Skriniar dutifully fell over and got the call. Whether Boga could have stopped his kicking motion is debatable, but it was a foul, if only barely. Nonetheless, Lukaku stepped up and buried the spot kick into the bottom right corner of the goal.

FC Internazionale v US Sassuolo - Serie A
Lukaku scoring the penalty
Photo by Emilio Andreoli/Getty Images

That was just the start though, as the game was flipped upside down and thrown off a cliff in the 46th minute, when Cristiano Biraghi gave Inter a 2-1 lead. The wingback played a nice one-two with Alexis Sánchez, and found himself deep in the left side of the box. The Italian then blasted a shot goalwards, and there was nothing Andrea Consigli could do to keep it out of the roof of the net.

That was, to say the least, an undeserved lead. Sassuolo was the more dangerous side, via its clinical counter attacks that were only a pass or two from becoming clear chances. On the other hand, Inter struggled to find a way through the Neroverdi’s compact defense and its final third decision making was poor.

The second half was very even, and Inter was much sharper than before. It should have doubled its advantage in the 63rd minute when it was given a golden opportunity. On a counter, Lukaku let loose a strong shot from inside the box but Consigli made the stop. The rebound was there for the taking but somehow Roberto Gagliardini smashed the crossbar from mere yards away from the goal.

FC Internazionale v US Sassuolo - Serie A
Photo by Emilio Andreoli/Getty Images

When your team misses a chance like that, it seems destined to concede the next goal, and that’s what happened in the 81st minute. Just minutes after being guilty of a handball in the box that went uncalled, Ashley Young seemed intent on finishing the job. The Englishman barged through the back of Mert Müldür in the box, leaving the referee with no choice. Domenico Berardi scored the second penalty of the game, and brought Sassuolo to 2-2.

That wouldn’t last long, as Borja Valero added his name to the scoresheet in the 86th minute. An Antonio Candreva free kick at the top corner of the box looped all the way to the far post where Valero only needed to stick out a foot to see the ball into the back of the net.

FC Internazionale v US Sassuolo - Serie A
Conte reacting just like the rest of us
Photo by Emilio Andreoli/Getty Images

But Sassuolo would somehow equalize again in the 89th minute. Giorgos Kyriakopoulos sent a low ball fizzing across the goalmouth where an unmarked Giangiacomo Magnani tapped in from point blank range at the far post. Then, to add insult to injury, Skriniar was sent off in the 93rd minute for a needless foul. He kicked out at a Sassuolo player after the ball had been played, and has since received a three match ban for his reaction after being ejected. And that was that. The game ended at three a piece. Wow.

What in the world did I just see? was my first thought after the final whistle blew. And I’m still not sure. It’s hard to take any meaningful observations from games that are as unpredictable as this one. Inter were quite definitely sub par in the first half, and you’d have to stretch very far to say it deserved to be in the lead. The second half was much better but the Nerrazurri never got a firm grasp on the game. It would have if Gagliardini figured out how to soccer, but oh well. But even with the one goal lead, Inter still could have held on except for Ashely Young. He had a dreadful 15 minute cameo, and should have conceded two penalties, but only one was called. It’s hard to blame everything on him, though, as the whole team could have done much better.

The dropped points now see Inter eight off Juventus. Even winning every game left may not be enough now, but perhaps the more pressing issue is staying in 3rd. Atalanta is now just four behind Inter, with the head to head clash on the last day of the season looking more and more important. But first, Inter travels to a resurging Parma on Sunday and will look to rebound with a win. Until then!