After a long and needed international break, it seemed that both player and management at Inter had the time and space needed to get this season back on track after an abysmal start. It even looked like such after a first half goal by Federico Dimarco. However, it took just minutes for an equalizer to come and for Inter to regress back to their meek selves. The immediate future gets darker by the day.
With Romelu Lukaku out even longer than expected and Marcelo Brozovic being taken victim by the international break monster, Inzaghi has little depth to run on. The dreaded Edin Dzeko-Lautaro Martinez front two has become the standard again while Kristjan Asllani was given his first start in Serie A for Inter.
Jose Mourinho did not take the touchline for Roma through suspension, but Roma started the match with a front three of Nicolo Zaniolo, Luca Pellegrini, and Paulo Dybala.
INTER (3-5-2): Handanovic; Skriniar, Acerbi, Bastoni; Dumfries, Barella, Asllani, Calhanoglu, Dimarco; Dzeko, Lautaro.
ROMA (3-4-2-1): Patricio; Mancini, Smalling, Ibanez; Celik, Cristante, Matic, Spinazzola; Pellegrini, Zaniolo, Dybala.
The time off seemed to have been just the tonic Inter needed early. The attack looked lively and the defense was able to compress the space high up the pitch, keeping Roma pinned in their half of the pitch for much of the first 45 minutes.
Inter thought they had the opener just 10 minutes into the match, as Dzeko spun his man and finished past Rui Patricio. A VAR check ruled the goal offside, but the Nerazzurri were clearly on the prowl.
Nicolo Barella looked great on both sides of the ball and eventually notched an assist on the half hour mark when he played Dimarco through the Roma defense. The left wingback put a right footed shot past Patricio’s near post that squeaked just under the Portuguese keeper.
Federico Dimarco gives Inter the lead— CBS Sports Golazo ⚽️ (@CBSSportsGolazo) October 1, 2022
Rui Patrício will want that one back pic.twitter.com/7qH7H1uObU
Despite the good energy leading up to the goal, the Inter lead was short lived. Just nine minutes later, a ball lost in the midfield allowed Leonardo Spinazzola to drive at the Inter box. His cross found the foot of Dybala who made no mistake with a stunning volley that Samir Handanovic could only push into the roof of his own net. It was a similar mistake to the one for Milan’s opener in the derby, and a similar disastrous result for Inter headed into halftime.
Conceding before halftime is often something that can take the wind out of the sails of any team in the world. In an Inter side that has been shaky at best mentally and physically, it could not have been a bigger obstacle to confront.
Inter applied pressure throughout the half, but could not find a breakthrough. A free kick from Hakan Calhanoglu rattled the frame of the goal and a long shot from Asllani nearly made his debut one for the Inter history books. However, the Nerazzurri could not get their strikers involved, which cost them dearly.
Just 15 minutes from full time, the disastrous blow came. Roma earned a very late-whistled foul just inside Inter’s half. From the delivery, Chris Smalling found himself with enough space to head the winner past Handanovic. Sending the Roma sideline into a frenzy and the Inter supporters just above the goal in the Curva into despair.
After the goal, Roma did well to implement a lot of gamesmanship to run the clock down and take any kind of sting out of the final minutes of the half. The whistle sent Inter to their fourth Serie A defeat of the season, leaving them with some serious evaluations to be made about this season.
Handanovic - 4.5: Made a nice double save right before the sequence that led to the goal. Was not worth much after that. Sadly standard.
Skriniar - 5: With all the set piece goals being conceded, it is time to start asking questions of everyone in defense. Not good enough. Head in Paris?
Acerbi - 6: From deadline day afterthought to most reliable defender. Some might argue that having him as the team’s best defender says a lot about Inter’s current state.
Bastoni - 5.5: Started to take those chances he needs to take going forward for this team to be dangerous, but still a bit hesitant. Hopefully a step in the right direction going forward.
Dumfries - 4: Worst player on the pitch. Lacking ideas and still getting caught out of position after a year in this team. He can be a great player in this team, but he lacks so much in consistency.
Calhanoglu - 6: Looked to have his creative spark back. Took chances and could have had a goal on two separate occasions. Hopefully another player that is heading back towards his best.
Asllani - 6: For someone his age and with as little senior football under his best as the young Albanian, this was a great debut. Not quite the same vision or confidence in passing as Brozovic, but that will surely come if he continues. This is his time to make a mark on the team.
Barella - 6.5: Best player on the field. He was everywhere to break up Roma’s play and grabbed a nice assist. Inter need this version of the Italian if they are to make anything of this season.
Dimarco - 6: Playing in his best position as a left wingback. He showed it as well. Good goal and good movement up and down the flank. No more of the center back nonsense.
Lautaro - 5: Maybe still a bit tired after making a roundtrip across the Atlantic. Nothing going in this match. Drew a foul from Gianluca Mancini that could have been a red. Led to the Calhanoglu free kick chance, but nothing cooking.
Dzeko - 5.5: A slight step offside kept him from having the opener, but he was the most involved of the two strikers throughout the match. Regardless, this front two still does not work.
Correa - 5: Did nothing when he came on. All I can really say there.
Mkhitaryan - 5: Also a big heap of nothing. Match was already dead by the time Inzaghi made any substitutes.
Gosens/Bellanova/Carboni - N/A
Inzaghi - 5: Honestly, he got the lineup right. The first half looked promising and Inter applied pressure throughout. The only personnel mistakes came in starting Handanovic and making his substitutes a year too late. The team is showing signs of life, but with no easy matches ahead, who knows what will happen.
The tests keep coming for this Inter team. Next up is Barcelona on Tuesday in the Champions League. Barca have been resurgent this season, but at least Inter will host the match. A win would do a lot for this team, but I would not hold my breath for it.