Inter continue to inch closer to their first Scudetto since 2009/10 as they won 2-1 versus Sassuolo at the Giuseppe Meazza. Romelu Lukaku and Lautaro Martinez each scored for Inter while Hamed Junior Traore scored the lone goal for Sassuolo. It was Inter’s tenth straight win in Serie A and they haven’t lost since the month of January.
The gap between first and second place is now 11 points with Inter further distancing themselves from AC Milan. The Nerazzurri have been hard to beat in recent times and that has been due to Inter manager, Antonio Conte, having his men play structured football. That was the case versus Sassuolo as they struggled to breakdown Inter’s defense for most of the match.
Inter will now shift their focus towards Cagliari, while Sassuolo play Benevento Calcio in the Monday matinee.
So, who were the winners and losers from Inter’s win over Sassuolo?
Winner: Ashley Young
For the second straight match, Ashley Young started at the left wing for the injured Ivan Perisic. The Englishman did a great job asserting himself into the match and played a key role within the first ten minutes. He delivered an accurate cross from just outside the box to Romelu Lukaku, who was left unmarked inside the goal area. The forward headed the ball towards the far post and opened the score for Inter.
Young showed great composure and his delivery was spot on for Lukaku. He was engaged when Inter was on the attack as he finished with two key passes, a pass accuracy rate of 80% and two accurate crosses. He made effective runs and was able to get in behind the Sassuolo defense. Prior to Perisic’s injury, he was performing well for his side and Young has done an admirable job in place of the Croatian.
Winner: Matteo Darmian
One of the best signings by Inter has been Matteo Darmian. The full back has done a great job in his first season with the Nerazzurri. With Alessandro Bastoni suspended for this match, Darmian slotted into his spot and stepped up for his side. He was formidable in the backend where he made strong challenges, committed himself to winning the ball and was effective in the final third.
Darmian has been used in various roles this season and it was no different in the match against Sassuolo. He was physical and assertive in the backend while also showing a good touch in his passes. He finished the match with four clearances, three interceptions and one blocked shot. He had a pass accuracy rate of 97% and converted three of his four long ball passes.
Stefan De Vrij and Milan Skriniar were average throughout this match while Darmian did most of the heavy lifting. What a signing he has been and one that was highly recommended by Inter manager, Antonio Conte. Credit to the Inter boss, as it’s paid off quite well this season.
Winner: Stefano Sensi
It has been a long time coming for Inter fans to see Stefano Sensi in an Inter jersey. The last time he appeared in a match for Inter was back on February 9th versus Juventus in the semi-finals of the Coppa Italia. Prior to making his appearance off the bench at the 59th minute for Christian Eriksen, Sensi played two matches for Italy during the International break.
It has been a frustrating season for Sensi, who has played 321 minutes in Serie A. He’s featured in eleven matches with only one as a starter. While it has been a disappointing season with nine matches remaining, the Italian will aim to make a case that he has plenty to offer for his side.
In the 35 minutes he played versus Sassuolo, Sensi started on the right foot as he looked calm and composed in the midfield. He showed good speed, made key passes and conceded fouls. He had two successful dribbles, won two fouls and made two tackles. It was a modest game from the Italian and he showed encouraging signs. With Nicolo Barella missing the game this Sunday due to picking up his fifth yellow card, there is a chance that Sensi could be slotted in.
Winner: Romelu Lukaku
Lukaku continues to impress this year for Inter. He has really turned his career around and once again was the lead man for Inter. The forward scored one goal and contributed one assist to help lead his side to victory. His hold up was impressive as he showed great strength and allowed his teammates to get involved in the play. He was effective on the defensive end as he made six clearances. Lukaku continues to show his importance to this Inter team.
Loser: Vlad Chiriches
Sassuolo defender, Vlad Chirches, hasn’t been at his best versus Inter this season. Back in November, when these two sides met, the Romanian had an own goal in their 3-0 loss versus the Nerazzurri. On Wednesday evening, the Sassuolo defender was accountable for Inter’s two goals. On the first goal, he failed to pick up Lukaku and stay tight to him. He left the Belgian plenty of space to convert his header past Sassuolo goalkeeper, Andrea Consigli.
On Inter’s second goal, off the counter attack, Chirches once again failed to step up on his man. He gave plenty of space for Martinez to receive the pass from Lukaku and advance into the box. The Argentine released his shot past Consigli as he wasn’t pressured and the space wasn’t cut down. Inter have made it difficult for Chirches and the Romanian will be glad he’s not playing the Nerazzurri again this season.
For most of the match Sassuolo had the majority of ball possession and were in Inter’s end. They attacked Inter’s end yet they never gave their backend a real scare until the final five minutes. Aside from Traore scoring for his side, Sassuolo really never tested Inter goalkeeper, Sami Handanovic.
Like Bologna, Sassuolo didn’t have an answer to break down Inter’s defense. The Neroverdi finished the match with 15 shots, however, only three hit the target. They held a massive advantage in possession 70%-30% yet did very little with it. Inter’s main strength this season has been their defense and ability to limit frustrate players and limit their space.