Yep. Again. Just days after twisting a 1-0 lead into a 2-1 loss to Bologna, Inter Milan conceded a late equalizer to Hellas Verona and was forced to settle for a 2-2 draw. Still, this result wasn’t as much of a let down as the Bologna defeat.
Inter may surrender boatloads of goals in the closing stages of matches, but it’s not short on letting in early goals, either. That trend continued against Hellas. Darko Lazović picked up a long ball on the edge of the box, and easily glided past Milan Skriniar to the six yard box. From a tight angle, the Serbian let loose a rocket into the roof of the net, but Handanović could have done better.
Inter commanded possession but Verona came a bit too close for comfort in the 19th minute. Miguel Veloso struck a powerful shot from distance that shook the post.
Verona was the sharper and more dangerous side for most of the half, but Inter did create a few chances as the game wore on. An Alexis Sánchez free kick was tipped over the bar by Verona’s keeper Marco Silvestri, while two Marcelo Brozović shots from long range drifted wide.
Despite enjoying 60% of possession, Inter failed to do much at all in the final third, with only 3 out of 7 shots landing on target. It was a sloppy first half, and Verona was clearly the best team at the Bentegodi. Ivan Juric’s side should have had a bigger lead, but couldn’t put away its chances.
The second forty five was quite different, however. A much more determined Inter Milan equalized in the 49th minute. In the box Romelu Lukaku quickly turned and sent an effort off the crossbar. The rebound fell to Antonio Candreva’s feet, and the 33-year-old made no mistake from the top of the box. Fortunately, Gagliardini was nowhere near this point blank situation.
Soon after, Inter took the lead with Candreva again playing a big role in the attack. From the center of the field, Gagliardini laid the ball off to Candreva at the edge of the box. The Italian struck a first time cross that took a heavy deflection off of Federico Dimarco and beat Silvestri at the near post. The goal would count as an own goal for the on loan Inter fullback.
Verona immediately responded, but Davide Faraoni was unsuccessful in his attempt to put a bouncing cross on frame from within the six yard box. With that, Hellas Verona retreated into its half for much of the remainder of the match. Inter, though, couldn’t put a nail in the host’s coffin with a third tally despite controlling the match.
But as the latter stages of the game arrived, so did Verona’s long last attack. In the 86th minute Amir Rrahmani drove into Inter’s box before dropping the ball to Veloso at the top of the eighteen. Veloso struck the ball first time, and without much placement, the ball’s speed carried it past a frozen Handanović and into the rippling net.
It’s perfectly reasonable to be frustrated with the late equalizer, but truth be told, Inter did not deserve the three points. Verona and Inter each dominated a half, but failed to put the other to the sword when it had the opportunity. Expected goals would agree, as there was very little difference between Verona’s metric (1.24) and Inter’s (1.40).
Verona rarely went forward, and yet was still able to nab two goals, and should have notched more in the 1st half. Inter’s backline has been leaky since the resumption, to say the least.
As has been the case much too often, individual mistakes were the downfall of Inter. First, Skriniar, who had just returned from a three match ban, let himself be beaten much too easily by Lazović. Had he held his ground and pushed the Serbian to the endline, the outcome would likely have been very different. Then, on the 2nd Verona goal Borja Valero let Veloso drift past him to the top of the box. The unmarked Veloso had enough time to calmly slot home.
Not to worry, it wasn’t just the defense that was off. The frontline appeared nonexistent from Verona’s defensive third for much of the game. This is the heat map from Lukaku, Sánchez, Valero, Lautaro, and Erisken.
Clearly there is something wrong. Namely, the rather large blank space where we would expect to see players whose job it is to score. That group of players had 25 touches in the box, with 5 shots. It was Lukaku who had the most touches (12) and Valero who was credited with 3 shots. Inter needs a lot more influence from its attackers.
Thanks to Atalanta’s win over Sampdoria, Inter has dropped to 4th. The table isn’t set in stone, though, with only 3 points separating Inter from 2nd placed Lazio, and 1 from La Dea. Up next for Inter is Torino on Monday.