Jogo bonito? More like, jogo louco, at least in Inter Milan’s case over the last week. After blowing a 2-1 and then a 3-2 lead against Sassoulo on Wednesday, Inter miraculously came from 0-1 behind in the 84th minute to beat Parma 2-1. For 84 minutes Inter looked like a team capable of majestically dropping out of the Champions League spots despite entertaining a 13 point cushion on 5th. And then things took a bit of a turn, to say the least. Before we get into that, though, here are the starting lineups.
Inter started decently, with Roberto Gagliardini having a header cleared off the line, but already you could see Parma’s potential in transition. On one such venture forward, Gervinho sent a shot whistling wide of the goal from the center of the box. Had the Brazilian put it anywhere on frame, it surely would have beaten Handanovic.
The Inter keeper wouldn’t get so lucky in the 15th minute. A pinpoint switch of play by Juraj Kucka on the near sideline found Gervinho deep in the left side of the box. He cut inside and shook off the Inter defenders before blasting a low shot into the far side of the goal.
Inter almost had a chance to respond immediately. In the 19th minute the referee checked VAR for a possible penalty on Parma. There was definitely a clear handball that blocked a Diego Godin header, but the Uruguayan negated that by being offside in the build up.
Parma almost made it 2-0 in the 26th minute. Gervinho went on a speedy run from midfield to the box and then laid a pass off to Andrea Cornelius. The Dane, however, skied the ball in quite an anticlimactic ending to the move.
Parma again flashed its prowess on the break and should have had at least one or two more goals but lacked a finishing touch. Meanwhile, Inter controlled possession (61%) but failed to make anything out of it. Out of 8 total shots, just 2 were on target and there was a lack of urgency from the Nerazzurri.
Inter began the 2nd half well, but Parma was still the most dangerous side via its many counter attacks. The Nerazzurri continued to dominate possession and shots, however. But like the 1st half, Inter never seriously tested Luigi Sepe’s goal.
Then, out of nothing, Inter found an equalizer in the 84th minute. An Ashley Young corner was headed goalwards by Lautaro Martínez before Stefan de Vrij flicked it past Sepe, and suddenly there was hope. There would soon be a lot more when Parma were brought down to ten men. Immediately following the goal, Kucka, already on a yellow, verbally accosted the referee and received his marching orders.
Inter sensed blood in the water and soon made it 2-1, a scoreline that seemed impossible moments prior. Victor Moses drove into the box and used some nifty footwork to send a lovely cross to a wide open Alessandro Bastoni at the far post. The youngster made no mistake from point blank range and completed the unlikeliest of comebacks.
Wow. That was some game.
Inter dominated statistically, with 63% possession and 20 shots compared to Parma’s 10. Antonio Conte’s side also edged out Parma 2.45 to 1 in expected goals. That was due to the quantity of shots from Inter, rather than the quality. Parma had fewer but better chances, shown by the sizes of dots on this map.
As the numbers show, Inter’s attack had little impact against a very solid Parma back line. Like we thought, I Crociati found joy on the break but fortunately lacked a finishing touch this time out. Godin looked particularly susceptible, and it seems as though he’s lost the edge he had at Atletico Madrid.
Another player who has fallen off a cliff is Lautaro Martínez. The Argentine was as nonexistent as ever Sunday, and now has just 1 goal in his last 9. To give him credit, he did assist the equalizer, but more is expected from the 22 year old. Whether this dry spell is related to Barcelona’s interest or not, only he knows, but one way or another, he needs to find a way back to the form that set the league alight.
Christian Eriksen, too, was not at his best. Although we thought he had turned a corner against Napoli and Sampdoria, he’s had little impact the last two games. It’s a mystery as to why, however, since he now is much more at ease in Conte’s system. Yet, Eriksen still can’t find the end, or even the middle product.
But now matter how much we pick over a player’s performance, three points is three points. Inter remains where it was before the game, and seems to have a big enough lead on 5th place to ensure Champions League football next season.
But should Inter find a way to drop points Wednesday against last placed Brescia, things could become a lot more unstable.