On Saturday afternoon, last place team Crotone hosted Serie A league leaders, Inter Milan, at the Ezio Scida. Although both sides are headed in opposite directions, it was an entertaining match. The home side held their own as they prevented Inter from scoring for three quarters of this match. However, Inter’s substitute, Christian Eriksen, scored at the 69th minute from outside the box to give Inter the 1-0 lead.
At the end of the match off the counter-attack, Achraf Hakimi also found the back of the goal and ensured the three points for the visitors. It was a tight affair between the two sides, with Inter having the bulk of chances and being denied by the post on three separate occasions. Crotone had very few scoring opportunities and struggled to score when chances came their way.
The win extended Inter’s unbeaten streak to 18 matches while the loss confirmed that Crotone are headed back to Serie B after being promoted just a season ago. With the win and Atalanta’s draw to Sassuolo, the title is clinched for the Nerazzurri.
So, who were the winners and losers from Inter’s 1-0 win versus Crotone?
Winner: Milan Skriniar
It was another stellar performance from Inter defender, Milan Skriniar, who held his ground in the backend. The Slovakian is having one of his best seasons with the Nerazzurri and has been a difficult to breakdown. Throughout the match, he made intelligent decisions inside the goal area to prevent Crotone from scoring.
On three separate occasions, he committed himself to strong tackles inside the box to win possession. Early in the match, Crotone forward, Junior Messias, had a chance to score inside Inter’s goal area. Skriniar tracked back, kept pace with him and blocked his shot.
While he was stellar in the backend, his offensive production was just as good. He made timely passes to put his teammates in scoring positions. He finished the match 5/5 long ball passes, one interception, three tackles, two clearances and one key pass. He was outstanding at both ends of the pitch for Inter.
Winner: Christian Eriksen
Near the end of January, Eriksen’s time with Inter looked as if it was coming to an end and his relationship with Inter manager, Antonio Conte, couldn’t be fixed. Miraculously, it went from bad to good after their game versus AC Milan in the quarter finals of the Coppa Italia. He had come off the bench minutes before stoppage time with his side tied 1-1. At the 97th minute, he scored from a set piece which sent his side to the semi-finals.
It has been a massive turn around for Eriksen, who’s been performing tremendously the past three months. The midfielder started on the bench versus Crotone after starting the previous five matches. With the match tied 0-0 after the hour mark and in need of a spark, Conte brought on Eriksen, Alexis Sanchez and Ivan Perisic at the 65th minute.
The trio were effective immediately yet, four minutes after coming on, it was Eriksen who delivered for his side with the eventual game winner. The midfielder received a pass from Romelu Lukaku and sent a beautiful strike from outside the box past Crotone goalkeeper, Alex Cordaz. A week prior to this match, he scored a late equalizer versus Napoli to preserve the draw.
While Eriksen has two goals this season, he’s been superb in other areas as well. He’s been effective on set pieces, has made key passes and has created scoring opportunities. He displayed good footwork versus Messias, where he received the ball, showed good control and fooled the forward to get around him. The Dane continues to impress for Inter and has been a major factor to their success this season.
Loser: Stefano Sensi
With Eriksen starting on the bench and getting a well-deserved rest, Stefano Sensi started in place of him and didn’t fare quite well. The midfielder far too often rushed his shots, made poor decisions and failed to convert on his chances. In the first half, the Italian had a good opportunity to score yet was unable to send the ball past a diving Cordaz. It was a poor attempt from Sensi which should have been executed better.
Late in the second half, Inter won a free just at the edge of the Crotone box. With the Nerazzurri in a good position to score, Sensi took the free kick. His delivery was poor and went right into the wall. They have been better off when Hakimi has taken free kicks this season.
Although Sensi was effective with his passes, far too often he made the wrong decision when he attempted a shot on goal. His runs were mistimed, where he failed to receive the pass. It was a mediocre performance from Sensi.
Crotone’s lead striker, Simy, struggled throughout the course of the match as his chances were limited versus a tough Inter backend. He finished the match with 28 touches and rarely attacked Inter’s goal. When chances came Simy’s way, he was unable to maintain control of the ball or lost possession too easily.
Late into the match, Simy had a glorious opportunity inside the goal area to test Inter goalkeeper, Samir Handanovic, yet the striker failed to hit the target and his shot hit the side of the netting. He made poor runs and lost key challenges. Inter’s defense held Simy in check and frustrated the forward for most of the match.
Winner: Adam Ounas
It has been a disastrous season for Crotone yet one positive has been the play of Adam Ounas, who is on loan from Napoli. He’s having a good season with the Rossoblu as has three goals and two assists in Serie A. He was a constant threat against Inter’s backline as he made strong runs, put pressure on their defenders, and got into good areas of the goal area to score.
Ounas’ speed made it difficult for Inter’s defense at times where he showed good composure, was able to get around their defenders and had quality technique when in possession. He finished the match with one shot on target, seven successful dribbles, one foul won and pass accuracy rate of 97.3%.