The weeklong gauntlet of Barcelona-Sassuolo-Barcelona is now just one match from completion. Surprisingly, results have favored Inter in two of three so far. A 1-0 win over Barcelona and a 2-1 win over Sassuolo have kickstarted this early season reclamation project of Simone Inzaghi after a nightmarish start.
Without attacking threats Hamed Traore and Domenico Berardi, who is always good for a goal against Inter, Sassuolo’s main threat in this match was Inter product Andrea Pinamonti. However, Sassuolo have shown that they can still score in bunches, in their 5-0 win over Salernitana. This is not the Sassuolo of last season, but they can still be dangerous.
The win over Barcelona may well be the point of this season that is looked back at as the 180 from disaster to success. Simone Inzaghi started a similar team to that victorious Champions League side, including Andre Onana being handed his Serie A debut. Kristjan Asllani started in Marcelo Brozovic’s stead and Danilo D’Ambrosio gave Milan Skriniar a match off after the valiant clean sheet against Barca.
SASSUOLO (4-3-3): Consigli; Toljan, Erlic, Ferrari, Rogerio; Frattesi, Lopez, Thorstvedt; Lauriente, Pinamonti, Ceide.
INTER (3-5-2): Onana; D’Ambrosio, Acerbi, Bastoni; Dumfries, Barella, Asllani, Calhanoglu, 32 Dimarco; Dzeko, Lautaro.
The match kicked off with Sassuolo quickly asking questions of Andre Onana, but the Cameroonian international was equal to the chance created by Davide Frattesi. The ensuing shot was blocked by the face of Nicolo Barella.
Inter answered with a dangerous moment of their own. Alessandro Bastoni picked up the ball in front of his own penalty area and then drove to nearly the edge of the Sassuolo penalty box, shrugging challenges before laying off to Lautaro Martinez, who had his shot blocked.
Lautaro found himself with a shooting chance a few minutes later as well, but he could not steer Denzel Dumfries’ cross home with an outstretched boot.
The half did not produce a huge amount of chances, but Inter managed to score with their first shot on goal in the match just before halftime. A cross from Hakan Calhanoglu was flicked on at the near post by Denzel Dumfries and then volleyed home at the far post by Edin Dzeko for his 100th Serie A goal. A huge milestone for a striker that has been very good for a very long time.
Edin Džeko's 100th Serie A goal comes at a crucial time for Inter. pic.twitter.com/TSObayBGj9— CBS Sports Golazo ⚽️ (@CBSSportsGolazo) October 8, 2022
Almost as if Inter runs on a script, they came out in the second half after taking the lead and looked like they could give it up at any minute. Sassuolo’s attacks became increasingly dangerous looking until Davide Frattesi headed home the equalizer after being left unmarked to get on the end of a Rogerio cross on the hour mark.
Heads dropped after the Sassuolo goal and it looked like more dropped points until Inter decided to turn it back on just before the 75th minute mark with a header from Lautaro that should have been a goal. Known Inter menace Andrea Consigli got over to make a miraculous save.
Inter recycled possession and got the goal they needed from Dzeko after beating Gian Marco Ferrari at the far post to head home a cross from Henrikh Mhkitaryan that Consigli had no chance at saving. No better way to celebrate goal 100 than with goal 101.
Edin Džeko scores Serie A goal number 101.— CBS Sports Golazo ⚽️ (@CBSSportsGolazo) October 8, 2022
A great day at the office for the Bosnian striker. pic.twitter.com/Ql4qDyWczi
After the goal, not much happened. Sassuolo did not have the edge to go find another equalizer and Inter were more than happy to escape the Mapei Stadium with a win.
Onana - 6.5: What a difference a goalkeeper can make. His distribution is always positive and pinpoint accurate. Left out to dry on the goal but did his part.
D’Ambrosio - 6: Wore the armband and filled in well for Skriniar. His appearance can’t be overlooked because the minutes he ate will keep Skrinair fresh for Barca, where he will have his hands full.
Acerbi - 6.5: Anchors this Inter defense really well. Doesn’t put a foot wrong and has plenty of cover with the defense playing a bit deeper now.
Bastoni - 6.5: He continues to get back to looking like himself. That drive forward early in the first half was great. Good on both sides of the ball.
Dumfries - 7: A huge rebound from the lows of the Roma loss. He actually took on his man and was successful on multiple occasions. This allowed him to get into better crossing positions. His deliveries benefited and he deserved at least one more assist.
Barella - 6.5: He looks like he is moving with ease for the first time in months dating back to last season. Getting in the way of every opposition attack while also getting the ball into dangerous positions for Inter. Great to see.
Asllani - 5: Growing pains apparent in the first half. Taken off with a yellow at halftime. These games happen with young players, no worries yet.
Calhanoglu - 6.5: Back on his confidence and his play shows it. Great crosses, smart decisions, solid game all around.
Dimarco - 6: Not his best match, but still a decent showing. Solid defensively and put in a few dangerous balls.
Lautaro - 5.5: Very wasteful in front of goal in this one. Missed a hatful of chances, but was definitely robbed by Consigli late in the match. That goal would have helped his performance in this match and his confidence going forward as he looks to stave off another lengthy goal drought.
Dzeko - 7.5 (MOTM): Rolled back the years to bag Serie A goals 100 and 101. Hero of the match. Great technique on the opening volley and even better movement to beat Ferrari and Consigli. Still excellent on his day.
Mkhitaryan - 7: Replaced Asllani at regista to great effect. Composed passing and a great cross for the winner. Could be a player that benefits from dropping deeper into the midfield as he ages.
Skriniar - 6: Had been on the pitch for mere moments before the Frattesi goal. Did not have much to do once Inter got the winner shortly after.
Darmian - 6: Linked up well with Mhkitaryan on the left in the buildup to the winner. Steady as always, even off the bench.
Gagliardini - N/A
Inzaghi - 6.5: Took a proactive approach to this match instead of the scared, reactive approach we had seen before Barca. Mhkitaryan on as regista helped secure the match and may have given the manager another piece to play with in the midfield setup. Also rotated well for an important match in Spain in the coming days.
Back to the Champions League after this one! Inter look to try to secure a serious bid at advancing into the knockout rounds of Europe’s top club competition for the second time in as many years. It should be a good one with this reenergized Inter team.