Even with Inter coming off one outing three days prior and heading into another on Monday, Antonio Conte elected not to rotate at the Stadio Ennio Tardini. The only changes were Achraf Hakimi returning from suspension for Matteo Darmian and Alexis Sanchez starting for Lautaro Martinez. Roberto D’Aversa lined up in a counter-attacking 4-3-1-2 shape, giving €14 million signing Dennis Man his debut start to lead the line with ex-Inter player Yan Karamoh. Gervinho and Andrea Cornelius, the other options up front, were out injured.
The Nerazzurri looked shaky out of the gate (a theme that would remain in prominence a bit too long for Conte’s side). The first real chance of the game fell to Parma, but Samir Handanovic was able to avert disaster and paw away a powerful Juraq Kucka header.
What a save from Handanovic! pic.twitter.com/nbNkC3QtJU— Condotti SMILEY (@Smiley_1932) March 4, 2021
Inter’s first shot came all the way in the 19th minute but the Nerazzurri had to wait even longer for a quality look on goal. Hakimi blazed through Parma’s defense to the end line and sent the ball rolling across the face of the goalmouth. The Morrocan’s cutback was barely behind Christian Eriksen, however, and the Dane couldn’t make clean contact from point-blank range. Inter continued to probe, forcing Parma into blocking two close-range Nerazzurri efforts to keep the scoreline level heading into the interval.
Conte’s side was far from its best, however, and Parma never seemed frazzled defensively. Il Crociati’s low-block stifled the Nerazzurri from finding much space in the final third while Inter’s sloppiness in possession compounded problems. The resulting effect was 54% of possession in Parma’s favor and chances being hard to come by for both sides.
After an underwhelming opening to the second period, the deadlock was finally broken in the 52nd minute. Sanchez netted his fourth of the campaign, though Roberto Gagliolo was inches from crashing the Chilean’s party and clearing the ball off the line.
Parma 0-1 Inter (Alexis Sanchez) pic.twitter.com/eOrYq3pi7w— ClipsInterGoals (@ClipsGoals) March 4, 2021
The goals come thick and fast for Inter, with Sanchez tallying a brace eight minutes later. Romelu Lukaku once again played an important role in the buildup, this time embarking on another driving run from midfield before laying off a pass to his strike partner.
Parma 0-2 Inter (Alexis Sanchez) Brilliant work by Lukaku for the assist pic.twitter.com/5N6kSKVyEg— ClipsInterGoals (@ClipsGoals) March 4, 2021
The night’s fireworks weren’t quite over, however. Hernani halved Parma’s deficit in the 71st minute, meeting a cross deep in the box and blasting a volley past Handanovic.
Even with Parma on the offensive, Inter was able to avoid catastrophe, though, and managed to escape the Tardini with three points despite a lackluster showing.
Handanovic - 7: Only faced two shots on target (one of which was a goal) but still came up with a big save. Had Kucka’s header found the back of the net fifteen minutes in, Inter would have been hard-pressed the find a result as Parma surely would have parked a fleet of buses in front of Luigi Sepe’s goal after taking the lead. But instead, the Slovenian’s quick reaction save was enough to keep Kucka off the scoresheet and pave the way for an Inter victory.
Bastoni - 7: Though Inter as a whole was off-pace, its defensive unit still held strong. Against his old club Bastoni notched a passing accuracy of 89%, 8 duels won, six successful long balls, and one key pass. A quality shift on both sides of the ball from the 21-year-old.
de Vrij - 7: Lead the team with 5 clearances and interceptions each, plus a pass completion rate of 70/73, and four duels. The Dutchman also lead Inter with 86 touches.
Skriniar - 7: Another solid display from the Slovak. Had a passing accuracy of 92%, 4 clearances, and three duels won.
Perisic - 6: The Croatian reverted back to something more resembling his early-season form than what he displayed vs Lazio and Milan. Got into dangerous positions in the final third but lacked an end product. His main misstep was leaving hernani wide open on the Brazilian’s goal but Perisic made up for that by putting his body on the line to block Hernani’s rocket of a free-kick later on.
Eriksen - 6: Despite making a fourth-straight start, the Dane was pushed to the periphery Thursday. Had the lowest number of touches of Inter’s midfield (55), 0 key passes. He did win 3 duels and complete four long balls, but this wasn’t the same Eriksen of recent matches. Then again, this wasn’t the same Inter either.
Brozovic - 6: One of his poorer performances of the season. Wasn’t reliable in possession (conceded possession the most) and didn’t dictate play in the way we know he can.
Barella - 6: Was guilty for a giveaway in his own box early on that almost lead to a Parma opportunity but managed to rectify his error. But like Brozovic, looked tired throughout the match, losing possession 14 times and getting dribbled past on four occasions.
Hakimi - 6.5: Wasn’t quite up to speed after a week off thanks to suspension, but Hakimi still had an eventful evening. Lead Inter with 11 duels won, 5 tackles, and 1 key pass. Outside of his chance with Eriksen, Hakimi wasn’t able to contribute much in the final third and didn’t have room to run in thanks to Parma’s defensive shape.
Sanchez - 8: Was all but invisible in the first half and struggled to get on the ball, but like all quality attackers, he took the chances that came his way. With goals in his second straight match thanks to a pair of neat finishes, the Chilean was instrumental in Inter’s victory.
Lukaku - 8: Though Sanchez will get the headlines, it was Lukaku that shouldered the other half of Inter’s goalscoring load. The Belgian’s two assists sparked both goals and he continues to be the main man for Inter’s attack. In fact, he is level with Hakan Calhanoglu and Henrikh Mkhitaryan on eight assists this season, the most in Serie A.
Thanks to Milan’s 1-1 draw with Udinese, Inter goes six points clear of the Rossoneri and ten ahead of Juventus (which has a game in hand). Milan and Juve are taking on Hellas Verona and Lazio respectively this weekend, prior to Inter’s Monday night clash with 4th placed Atalanta.
With 13 games and 39 points still up for grabs this season, the importance of winning ugly can’t be overstated. Inter got the job done today.