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Atalanta 2-3 Inter Milan: Match Recap

Just another drama-free afternoon for the Nerazzurri

Atalanta BC v FC Internazionale - Serie A Photo by Jonathan Moscrop/Getty Images

Inter closed the curtains on 2022 in true Pazza Inter style, squeaking past Atalanta 3-2 amidst another disastrous defensive display and a scoring downpour at the other end. The important thing, however, is that Simone Inzaghi’s side got all three points (its first of the year against top 8 teams) and avoids going into the World Cup break in a crisis. Speaking of which, some further good news is that we have a month and a half to recover from the past ninety minutes until we see the Nerazzurri back on the pitch.

Starting XIs

Atalanta’s XI (3-4-1-2)
Inter’s XI (3-5-2)

Simone Inzaghi made one change to the lineup against Bologna, replacing Francesco Acerbi for Stefan de Vrij. Atalanta, on the other hand, made 8 changes compared to 8 changes from a defeat to Lecce, with Ademola Lookman and Duvan Zapata leading the line in Gian Piero Gasperini’s 3-4-1-2.

Atalanta BC v FC Internazionale - Serie A Photo by Mattia Ozbot - Inter/Inter via Getty Images

First Half

Proceedings got off to a quiet start at the Gewiss, and both teams spent the opening stages feeling the game out. Most of the action came in Inter’s half, and the first real chance of the game went in the hosts’ favor. Teun Koopmeiners blasted a half-volley from the edge of the six-yard box to the near post but Andre Onana was on hand to paw the ball away in the 15th minute. Onana was called into action again on the ensuing corner to push a Jose Luis Palomino header off the line. The Cameroonian’s efforts ultimately proved futile, however, and Atalanta found its breakthrough shortly after. de Vrij clumsily took down Zapata in the box, and although it was a bit soft, the Dutchman came in late and was nowhere near the ball. Lookman buried the spot-kick into the top corner to give Atalanta the lead 25 minutes in.

Inter didn’t let La Dea rest on its lead for long and managed to pull level by the 36th minute. A Calhanoglu cross was flicked on by Lautaro and found Dzeko’s outstretched leg that sent a volley past Juan Musso from close range.

Inter took control after the equalizer with Atalanta looking a bit frazzled, but the Nerazzurri couldn’t find a go-ahead goal before the break. Nonetheless, it was hard to find any complaints with the scoreline based on the balance of play - Inter boasted 57% possession and 7 shots (2 on target) compared to Atalanta’s 8 efforts (3), with neither team able to ever truly dominate the game.

Atalanta BC v FC Internazionale - Serie A Photo by Giuseppe Cottini/Getty Images

Second Half

Atalanta switched to a back four at halftime, bringing on Ruslan Malinovsky and his famous left boot for a center back. Despite that attacking switch, Inter controlled possession out of the gate and it paid off in the 56th minute when Dzeko bungled home a Dimarco cross from point-blank range.

The good guys went on to double their lead in the 61st minute. Lautaro flicked a Calhanoglu corner onto Dzeko at the back post but Palomino headed it into his own net before the Bosnian could get a touch.

Unfortunately, any dreams of a stress-free ending were dashed by the 77th minute. Palomino avenged himself by sending a diving header off a corner into the correct goal and making it a one-goal game with fifteen minutes remaining.

Despite an episode of pinball in Inter’s box and some moments of ‘almost’ for Atalanta, the Nerazzurri survived to hold onto a 3-2 win and take all three points into 2023.

Player Ratings

Onana - 7: Made 5 saves of varying difficulty levels and was left out to dry on both Atalanta goals. His distribution was a bit shaky, however, and he lost possession 16 times with a 70% passing accuracy.

Bastoni - 6: A solid showing from Bastoni, no more no less. Had a 91% passing rate and 4 accurate long balls but didn’t have as much of the ball as usual.

de Vrij - 5.5: Lost the physical battle with Zapata on multiple occasions, the most egregious of which was the penalty. He did manage to clean up his game in the second half, making 6 clearances, 1 blocked shots, and winning 4 duels.

Skriniar - 6.5: Had a very well-rounded afternoon, leading Inter in touches and accurate passes, making 4 clearances, and winning 4 duels.

Atalanta BC v FC Internazionale - Serie A Photo by Jonathan Moscrop/Getty Images

Dimarco - 7: Another strong showing from Dimarco, who managed 8 crosses and 4 accurate long balls, and would have gotten the assist on Inter’s second if it wasn’t an own goal,

Mkhitaryan - 5.5: Failed to make much of a mark with just 31 touches (11th on Inter), 1 contested duel, 1 clearance, and 1 key pass.

Calhanoglu - 7.5: Retained his starting spot despite Brozovic’s return to fitness and put in a busy shift with the second-most touches on Inter (76), 3 key passes, 4 accurate crosses, 2 blocked shots, 3 interceptions, and won 8 duels.

Barella - 6: A quiet outing from Barella, who managed just a 79% passing rate and struggled to get on the ball in key areas.

Dumfries - 5: Was constantly let down by a poor touch and killed a number of attacks with 15 giveaways and a 70% passing accuracy.

Lautaro - 8: Didn’t get a goal himself but showed his savvy intelligence by creating two with smart flick-ons to Dzeko to go along with 7 duels won and 4 clearances.

Dzeko - 8.5 (Man of the Match): Continues to bang in the goals with Lukaku out and he’s now up to six on the season total in Serie A.

Inzaghi - 7: He stuck with what worked against Bologna and rightly so, potentially saving his job with this win. Inzaghi will now have a few more months to figure out the re-insertion of Brozovic and Lukaku into the eleven, but that’s a question that 2023 will have to answer.

Atalanta BC v FC Internazionale - Serie A Photo by Jonathan Moscrop/Getty Images

Depending on the result of Juventus/Lazio, Inter will finish either fourth or fifth to end the year, 11 points back of Napoli, who the Nerazzurri kick off 2023 against on January 4th. Until then, it’s World Cup time. A number of Inter players are headed to Qatar so it won’t be a month and a half of vacation for everyone.

Forza Inter!