A draw at Sampdoria and loss to Real Madrid meant Inter needed a big victory at home against a previously unbeaten Bologna to keep the good vibes going. And boy, did the team in some sleek new black shirts deliver (those really are some great kits now that we’ve had a chance to see them in action). Simone Inzaghi and Co. put on a show to remember for a thunderous crowd at the San Siro. Denzel Dumfries was the star of the night in his first start since arriving in Italy, causing constant problems to Bologna (so much so that Siniša Mihajlović subbed out his entire left flank to deal with the Dutchman). Edin Dzeko tallied a brace with a pair of savvy finishes and Federico Dimarco’s wicked left boot led to two goals. Inter played with freedom and purpose in a way that brought back memories of last May when the Nerazzurri roared to several high-scoring post-Scudetto victories.
Simone Inzaghi sprung a few surprises with his starting eleven. Denzel Dumfries and Federico Dimarco lined up on the flanks while we got our first (and unfortunately brief) look at the Lautaro/Correa partnership from the get-go. Hakan Calhanoglu was benched in favor of Matias Vecino while Arturo Vidal picked up a thigh strain during the warmup.
Recent years have seen Bologna cause Inter problems at the San Siro but this time around it took the good guys only six minutes to squash any fears of an unwelcome result. Lautaro opened the scoring for the Nerazzurri with a close-range finish from a pin-point Dumfries delivery on a lightning-fast counter.
Denzel Dumfries plays a beautiful ball and Lautaro Martínez is on hand to make it 1-0 pic.twitter.com/DJy3JIyZbz— CBS Sports Golazo ⚽️ (@CBSSportsGolazo) September 18, 2021
Bologna, however, wasn’t cowed by conceding early and had a not-insubstantial edge in possession through the opening acts. The Rossoblu’s best chance came in the 19th minute. Roberto Soriano was slipped in behind the Inter backline and ripped an effort to the back post from a narrow-angle. Samir Handanovic was up to the task, making a quick reflex save to paw the ball away before Nicola Sansone volleyed the rebound wide. That was the last we heard of Bologna’s attack for the rest of the half. Inter doubled its advantage at the half-hour mark with yet another headed-goal from Milan Skriniar off an exquisite Federico Dimarco corner.
Heads you're it!— CBS Sports Golazo ⚽️ (@CBSSportsGolazo) September 18, 2021
Milan Skriniar makes it 2-0 from a corner kick pic.twitter.com/7J6BRUP0el
Nicolo Barella made it 3-0 four minutes later. Dumfries once again had a huge role in the buildup, fizzing a low cross into the danger zone after some neat link-up play with Edin Dzeko on the edge of the box.
As much of this scoreline was due to Bologna’s porous defense as it was Inter’s attack. Every time the Nerazzurri ventured forward it carved through the visitors with ease and put immediate pressure on Lukasz Skorupski’s goal. Inter took seven shots and landed five on target from just 42% possession. Bologna, meanwhile, could manufacture just three shots, and all too often its possession filtered out into nothing in midfield.
Even with the three points all but certain, Inter was far from ready to sit back and relax. Lautaro rattled the crossbar in the 50th minute after blasting a Dumfries cross goalwards. Marcelo Brozovic then had a long-range attempt saved by a diving Skorupski before Lautaro put the bouncing rebound wide. Inter’s fourth goal of the evening finally made its appearance in the 54th minute. A Dimarco cross was whiffed by both Dzeko and Dumfries before Matias Vecino practically walked the ball into the net.
Edin Dzeko etched his name onto the scoresheet in the 63rd minute. A shrew dummy from Lautaro opened up space for his strike partner, who made no mistake from the center of the box.
He doesn't age!— CBS Sports Golazo ⚽️ (@CBSSportsGolazo) September 18, 2021
Edin Dzeko scores Inter Milan's fifth of the day with a cheeky finish pic.twitter.com/T7cJRqB9wO
The Bosnian bagged his brace only five minutes later with a spectacular finish. Dzeko was almost on the end line but still managed to beat (a slightly out of position) Skorupski with a rocket into the roof of the net.
Edin Dzeko gets Inter's 6️⃣ th goal of the day.— CBS Sports Golazo ⚽️ (@CBSSportsGolazo) September 18, 2021
What a finish it is pic.twitter.com/2GOGeRtTzn
Arthur Theate managed to put a slight blemish on Inter’s night with his debut goal in the 86th minute. The young Belgian striker was left alone at the back post on a set-piece and directed a header off the ground and in to ruin Handanovic’s clean sheet.
Handanovic - 6.5: Handanovic’s reflex save on Soriano when the score was still 1-0 probably didn’t affect the final result but gave Inter breathing room to run up the score. That was all the action the veteran was called into until the late goal which he had little chance on.
Bastoni - 7: Perhaps lucky not to have a penalty called on him when the ball struck his tucked-in hand off a set-piece scramble early on. The Italian went on to have a routine (in other words, very good) performance. He had a 95% passing accuracy, 3 accurate long balls, 2 interceptions, four tackles, and six out of six duels won.
de Vrij - 6: Relatively quiet outing for de Vrij. Was never called on defensively thanks to Bologna’s nonexistent attack and had just 31 touches before an early exit for Andrea Ranocchia.
Skriniar - 7.5: Continued his superb form to start 2021/22. Scored his second of the season with a dominant header, made 5 clearances, 2 interceptions, and won three duels. Skriniar’s really putting up a case for the captain’s armband once Handanovic retires.
Dimarco - 7: Another strong showing from the Inter youth product. He wasn’t great against Madrid midweek but he’s been a reliable contributor in league action. Dimarco assisted Skriniar’s goal with a stellar corner kick and played the cross that Vecino eventually knocked home. The 23-year-old had the third-most touches on Inter and nine cross attempts, though he could clean up his final product. Only two of those crosses found their target and he committed the most giveaways on Inter (17).
Vecino - 7: It was a surprise to see the Uruguayan in the eleven after his error on Real Madrid’s winner but he put in a respectable shift. Vecino helped create the opener with a smart ball to Dumfries that sparked the attack and got a goal of his own thanks to a decent helping of fortune (how often does Dzeko whiff that - not very!). Though he also showed his limits, having Vecino as a reliable rotation piece is only going to help Inter as it enters the busiest stretch of the schedule.
Brozovic - 7: The Croatian continues to show he’s as important under Inzaghi as he was with Conte. He created the third goal with a nifty dribble to play Dumfries in and assisted Dzeko’s first of the night. Brozovic also had the second-most touches, a 95% passing rate, and 5 successful long balls.
Barella - 7: A busy night for Barella. His goal was thanks to a fortunate rebound but he was a constant presence in the midfield. Barella led Inter in touches and accurate passes, including an incredible nine long balls and three key passes.
Dumfries - 7.5 (Man of the Match): If this is what Dumfries has to offer, Inter is in for a treat. He was the Nerazzurri’s biggest threat and terrorized Bologna’s defense for all ninety minutes. Dumfries had shown flashes of what he’s capable of in previous games but it all came together Saturday. From speed to dribbling to the final product, he had it all.
Lautaro - 7: With Correa injured and Dzeko taking time to make an impact, Lautaro stepped up to carry the striker workload. His movement was a nuisance for Bologna and along with a goal of his own, set up Dzeko with an astute dummy that left the Rossoblu confounded.
Correa - NA: Hard to judge Correa on just thirty minutes of action. He picked up a back/hip injury in a collision with Lorenzo de Silvestri that forced him off. According to reports, it’s just a bruise and no fracture, as was feared. Get well soon Joaquin!
Dzeko - 7: Even at 35, Dzeko has still got his goal-scoring instinct despite a fairly anonymous first half. How the Bosnian managed to beat Skorupski from such a tight angle on his second goal is beyond me. As long as Inzaghi manages his minutes efficiently, Dzeko has a lot to offer this Inter side.
Up next for Inter is another quick turnaround and a visit to Fiorentina Tuesday. La Viola and the majority of Inter’s opponents will offer a much tougher test than Bologna but a 6-1 win will only boost confidence and morale, especially after a result as disappointing as the loss to Real Madrid was. Who doesn’t love scoring six goals?