One game. We got one game of a fun, high scoring Inter Milan that managed to not drop points in innovative and creative fashion. And then Inter vs Bologna came along. Welcome back Pazza Inter.
The match experienced a rather chippy opening ten minutes, with fouls left and right. After that bumpy start, Inter settled into possession. But a firm Bologna backline proved hard to break down. Hard, but not impossible.
Romelu Lukaku scored his 20th goal of the season off of Inter’s first real chance of the game. An Ashley Young cross was headed into the woodwork by Lautaro Martínez, but Lukaku was there to bury the rebound from close range.
Young had a look at goal himself in the 28th minute. He nutmegged Tomiyasu and went on a driving run into the box, but Skorupski saved Young’s shot.
Bologna progressed as the half went on and held more of the ball, but looked disjointed in the final third. Then, out of nothing the Rossoblu had a great chance to level. In the 34th minute Riccardo Orsolini found himself in a one on one with Handanovic, but the Slovenian kick saved the shot away.
Inter went into halftime a goal to the good and was clearly the better side. Bologna wasn’t out of the contest, though, and had some good moments offensively, most coming from Orsolini.
Inter suffered another scare in the 53rd minute. From outside the box, Musa Barrow sent a cracking effort off the post, leaving Handanovic helpless.
Things took a turn for the worse in Bologna’s case four minutes later. A questionable foul decision went against Roberto Soriano, and the Italian proceeded to utter words worthy of a sending off.
Inter won a penalty in the 61st minute, when Mitchell Dijks tripped Candreva in the box. Lautaro stepped up to take the kick, but sent a weak effort down the middle. Skorupski saved the initial attempt and Gagliardini’s rebound from close range.
That miss would haunt Inter, as Musa Juwara equalized for Bologna in the 74th minute. A disastrous clearance from Gagliardini fell to Juwara at the top of the box, and the Gambian struck a strong first time shot into the back of the net.
Three minutes later, Alessandro Bastoni earned a second yellow after taking down Juwara on the counter.
Bologna turned the game on its head in the 80th minute. On a counter attack Nicolás Dominguez played a lovely ball through Inter’s out of position defense and to Musa Barrow in the box. Barrow sent a low and hard shot to the far post, and gave Bologna an unlikely 2-1 victory.
That was very, very disappointing, to put it kindly. It seemed as though the team had turned a corner against Brescia, but instead the same problems as before resurfaced, but even more visible than before.
To get a better sense of the game, let’s look at the heatmap. Inter is on the left, Bologna on the right.
For starters, Bologna clearly ceded the midfield to Inter. That gave Inter 59% possession, but not much was produced. Only 5 of 15 shots were on target, compared to Bologna’s 7 out of 13, from a mere 41% of the ball. The Rossoblu was active on the wings, though, and boasted an impressive group of young attackers. Orsolini looked sharp before he came off, while Juwara and Barrow need no introduction. The trio tallied 9 of 13 Bologna shots, and were the focal points for the visitors.
Inter, however, has to be very disappointed to have conceded twice to a team that was in its own half as much as Bologna was. There were so many opportunities to pin in Bologna thanks to the Rossoblu’s deep starting positions, but Inter lacked that killing edge and paid for it.
Lautaro Martínez was not his usual self, this time more so mentally than physically. His frustration in the Brescia game may have been welcome after the Argentine’s muted showings in games against Napoli and Parma. Now, though, it is the sign of a player desperately needing a goal, but lacking the confidence to do so, perfectly evidenced by Lautaro’s dreadful penalty. If only it had been his header, rather than Lukaku’s rebound that found the back of the net. If that had been the case, we would have a very different game to talk about.
Scapegoating Lautaro would be unjust, however. There were many individual errors in the second half that allowed Bologna to come back.
Roberto Gagliardini, for one, has proven that he is not starting level caliber at the club. He missed another open goal on the penalty rebound and botched a clearance before Juwara’s leveler. Fortunately, both Brozović and Vecino made appearances after lengthy injury layoffs yesterday, so I don’t think Gagliardini will be making much more of an impact this season.
This result coupled with Lazio’s loss to Milan just about ends the title race. Inter didn’t have much of a chance before this game, but with eleven points separating it from the Old Lady, things are done and dusted. Not exactly, though. Atalanta has now moved to within a point of Inter, and looks the favorites for 3rd at least. There isn’t much of a difference between 3rd and 4th, but to show no improvement upon last year’s table position would surely be a let down.
The next match on the schedule will be a tough one, with a trip to Hellas Verona coming up on Thursday.