Inter made several changes from its thrilling midweek 2-1 Coppa Italia victory over Milan. Andrea Ranocchia came in for Stefan de Vrij, while Alessandro Bastoni returned to the lineup. Roberto Gagliardini and Christian Eriksen got the starts in midfield, with Marcelo Brozovic and Arturo Vidal on the bench. Romelu Lukaku and Achraf Hakimi started as well, as both will be suspended for the Coppa semifinal first leg. It was Antonio Conte who sat out against Benevento, serving the first of a two-game ban.
After a stretch of heavy possession to open the game, Inter took the lead in the 7th minute, not quite as early as the 30 second goal in the reverse fixture. An Eriksen free kick once again was an important peice, this time being defelecred into his own net by Riccardo Improta.
Own goal to give Inter the advantage 1-0 so far! pic.twitter.com/y9DScBf92v— Condotti SMILEY (@Smiley_1932) January 30, 2021
Inter continued on the front foot but the Nerazzurri couldn’t cause Lorenzo Montipo’s goal any serious problems despite several chances. The hosts went into the interval with 65% of the ball and 5 shots compared to Benevento’s 0, but just one attempt landed on target. The Nerazzurri lacked fluidity in the final third, and when it did create, the finishing wasn’t up to standard.
Inter came out of the break determined to change the narrative. Eriksen had a deflected blast from outside the box that pinged off the crossbar in the 48th minute; Lautaro put the rebound into the back of the net but was offsides. The Argentine was within the law when he doubled Inter’s advantage in the 57th minute, breaking a four-game goal drought with his tenth tally of the season.
Inter 2-0 Benevento (Lautaro Martinez) Gagliardini assist pic.twitter.com/qOFXVuX6V4— InterComps (@InterComps) January 30, 2021
Lautaro and Lukaku (Lau-Taku? LuLa?) combined for the icing on the cake in the 67th minute, and this time it was Lukaku who broke his scoring drought, taking advantage of a Benevento error.
Inter 3-0 Benevento (Romelu Lukaku) Lautaro Martinez assist pic.twitter.com/ISii7eSRfV— InterComps (@InterComps) January 30, 2021
Inter 4-0 Benevento (Romelu Lukaku) Alexis Sanchez assist pic.twitter.com/u2Vwj6DnlH— InterComps (@InterComps) January 30, 2021
Even with the result in no doubt, Inter was hungry for a fourth. Benevento did enough to keep the scoreline respectable, though, so the Nerazzurri had to settle with four.
Inter’s thrashing of Benevento perhaps wasn’t the prettiest, it sure was one sided. Inter notched 12 shots (6 on target) and 62% poessesssion. On the other hand, Benevento had not a single shot throughout the ninety minutes. Furthermore, Le Streghe had a mere 7 touches in the Nerazzurri box and three player whose average psootion was in the hosts half. Meanwhile, 7 Inter players spent most of the game in Benevento’s half and the Nerazzurri had 29 touches in the penalty area. Comfortable wins aren’t common, but if this wasn’t one, I don’t know what is.
Handanovic - 6: Practically nothing to do defensivley, but the shutout will look just as good on his resume anyways. Completing 23/24 passes was the highlight of his evening.
Bastoni - 7: Made a couple important recoveries when Gianluca Lapadula threatened to get in behind. Showcased his superb skill on the ball with a passing accuracy of 93%, 1 key pass, and 3 long balls.
Ranocchia - 6: Lapudula caused him plenty of problems in the first half and the veteran risked a psot kick when he clumsily bundled the Peruvian down just outside the box. Held his own for the rest of the match and wasn’t a weak link once Lapadula’s service was shut down. Won 4 duels and rarely lost possession.
Skriniar - 6.5: Didn’t have much to do, but still had 2 interceptions, 1 clearance, and a 94% passing success.
Perisic - 6: A frustrating performance from the Croatian. Zero successful crosses from seven attempts and 16 losses of possession, but got into threatening positions often and won seven duels. If only Perisic could seriously upgrade his final product, Inter could have a permanent solution to what seems to be a revolving door at left wing-back.
Gagliardini - 6.5: Contrary to last season’s fixture and the eye-catching volley the Italian scored, this was a rather quiet outing from Gagliardini. Set up Lautaro’s goal, won 5 duels, and competed 91% of his passes.
Eriksen - 8 (Man of the Match): Followed up his spectacular game winner against Milan with an equally impressive showing versus Benevento. Though he didn’t register a goal or assist, it was his free kick that forced Improta into scoring the opener. He played with confidence, trying shots from distance and causing all sorts of problems to the visitors. Eriksen tallied 130 touches (the most on Inter), 2 key passes, 9 long balls. Is this the start of what we’ve all been waiting for from the Dane. At the least, it poses some interesting questions over who should get the start in midfield to Antonio Conte.
Barella - 7: Was the same excellent presence in the midfield as usual. Two key passes and five duels won, plus this magnificent bit of skill.
Hakimi - 6.5: Drew the foul for the opener, but wasn’t at his best and seemed to be trying too hard to create in the final third. Did well with everything else, though, winning 6 duels, 2 interceptions, and an 89% passing rate.
Lautaro - 8: Up until his goal, the Argentine wasn’t playing with confidence, missing several chances. But the goal made him a new player, and his was his pressure that lead to Lukaku’s first. Inter will need the latter Lautaro Tuesday with Lukaku out suspended.
Lukaku - 8: Good to see Inter’s leading scorer back on the scoresheet, with the Belgian reigniting his capocannoniere campaign. Lukaku’s tally of 14 is one short of Cristiano Ronaldo.
With both Milan and Juventus picking up victories ahead of kickoff at the Meazza, the three points were even more important. Inter remains two points short of the Rossoneri and five ahead of Juve, though the Old Lady has a game in hand. Next up for Inter is in fact Andrea Pirlo’s side in Tuesday’s Coppa Italia semifinal first leg, before a visit to Fiorentina in the league on Friday.