Inter Milan stumbled at first, but came back to pick up a dominant 3-1 victory over Torino. I don’t know about you, but that win felt quite nice after the recent turmoil surrounding the club. Even if Handanović had to exhibit a peculiar goalkeeping technique that had an unfavorable outcome.
There were a few surprises in the eleven that Antonio Conte picked to start the match. Notably, Godín and D’Ambrosio got the nod instead of Škriniar and Candreva, respectively. Despite my initial skepticism, I have to give Conte credit: starting Godin paid off immensely while D’Ambrosio wasn’t half bad for an out of position center back.
Torino struggled to get out of its half in the opening stages, thanks to Inter’s throttling possession. There was no end product, though, as La Granata held strong at the back.
Then, completely against the run of play, Torino took a 1-0 lead in the 17th minute. An inswinging corner went all the way to the back post where an unchallenged Samir Handanović looked to catch the looping ball. Except, he didn’t. The veteran goalie instead dropped the ball at the feet of one of the most in form attackers in the league. Andrea Belotti paid no heed to Roberto Gaglairdini, and scored the easiest goal he could have dreamed of. Why am I laughing hysterically, you ask, dear stranger? Oh, no reason...
The rest of the half would continue much the way it had prior to the goal. Inter looked short of ideas in the final third and it was Torino that came closest to doubling its lead. La Granata first had a very real penalty shout, when Alessandro Bastoni appeared to lean his arm into the ball on a cross. That went uncalled, but after some of the PKs we’ve seen recently, Inter definitely dodged a bullet there. Torino was on the attack again soon after, but a low, close range shot from Cristian Ansaldi was saved by Handanović at the near post.
That was that, and Inter went into the interval down by one. I think this heat map does a very good job of describing how the first half had gone.
Simply put, Inter had a whole lot of possession (71%) but wasn’t able to cause any issues in the final third. Torino, on the other hand, got behind the ball and set up shop quite well. But how La Granata managed to score is a mystery that I’ve yet to puzzle out.
Fortunately for my sanity, the second half was quite different. Like against Verona, the Nerazzurri found an early second half equalizer. This time, Lautaro headed an excellent Brozović free kick back to the center of the box. Ashley Young volleyed the bouncing ball home for his 3rd tally of the campaign in the 48th minute. Interestingly, all three have been on the volley.
It wouldn’t take long for Inter to claim the lead. Three minutes later, a beautiful Young chip from outside the box found Alexis Sánchez at the top of the box. The Chilean headed square to his fellow South American Diego Godín, who sent a strong header into the back of the net.
Inter took the game by the scruff of the neck in the 61st minute. Sànchez won the ball in midfield and quickly broke towards Torino’s goal. He then played Lautaro a vertical pass, and from the top of the box, the Argentine struck a low shot that deflected over a helpless Salvatore Sirigu.
It wasn’t going to be that simple, with a Belotti header pinging off the crossbar in the 65th minute.
Inter had a few more chances, but fell short of a fourth. First, Candreva broke through Torino’s backline and had a whole host of wide open Inter players waiting for a pass to tap in, but instead pulled a shot wide from a tight angle. Luataro blocked a clearance from Sirigu back towards the goal line, but the goalkeeper recovered just in time to keep the ball out. And lastly, Gagliardini had two close range efforts back-to-back, but both were saved, unsurprisingly.
Somehow, despite dropping seven points since the restart, Inter has moved into 2nd place thanks to this win. The Nerazzurri is tied on 68 points with Lazio, and one ahead of Atalanta. Regardless of what Diego Godín may say, the title race is over, with Juventus entertaining an eight points cushion.
Without further ado, the heat map from the full ninety minutes:
As you can see, there’s a stark constant between each half. In the first forty-five, Inter failed to penetrate Torino’s low block, but the second was a different story. The Nerazzurri was much higher up the pitch, and a constant presence in Torino’s half. Eighty-one percent of the game took place in La Granata’s middle and defensive third. Sánchez was the one leading the the line for Inter. He tallied two assists, while his partner up top, Lautaro, broke his duck in front of goal. Even if it was thanks to a lucky deflection, I hope the goal will restore the 23-year-old’s confidence. The two South Americans have started two games together, and both have been wins. Hmm.
Next on Inter’s schedule is away at SPAL this Thursday, and Roma Sunday. SPAL should definitely provide three points, but the Roma fixture could be a tad tougher. Forza!