After an abysmal month of February for Inter, a month in which they scored a grand total of four goals in all competitions, the Nerazzurri broke out of their shell emphatically against relegation battlers Salernitana. A hat trick from Lautaro Martinez and a brace from Edin Dzeko lifted the weight off of Inter as they head back to the top of the table temporarily.
While most expected Inzaghi to rotate his team with Liverpool on the horizon, he instead opted to make only one change from the team that drew against Milan in the Coppa Italia. Ivan Perisic pulled out just before the match with a muscle issue, meaning Matteo Darmian got the start outside of his normal right sided position.
Davide Nicola only made one change to his team that drew 1-1 with Bologna last weekend. Franck Ribery was unavailable after a car accident in recent days, so fellow Frenchman Lys Mousset took his place in the attack, supporting Milan Djuric.
INTER (3-5-2): Handanovic; Skriniar, de Vrij, Bastoni; Dumfries, Barella, Brozovic, Calhanoglu, Darmian; Dzeko, Lautaro.
SALERNITANA (4-4-2): Sepe; Mazzocchi, Dragusin, Fazio, Ranieri; Verdi, Coulibaly, Ederson, Kastanos; Mousset, Djuric.
With the nerves palpable throughout the team, Inter started well, but still could not break the invisible wall that has been blocking the back of the net for the past few matches. The hosts flashed the ball across Luigi Sepe’s goal but could not get a shot. Salernitana then countered dangerously through Djuric, but Verdi’s shot sailed well over.
Just before the 10 minute mark, Lautaro headed a Darmian cross straight at Sepe for Inter’s first shot on target of the night. Minutes later, a great ball from Nicolo Barella sliced the visitors’ backline open, but Lautaro’s shot hit the crossbar in a chance that completely embodied his confidence up to that point.
The breakthrough came shortly after from the same two linking up. However, this time Lautaro hit the back of the net in a moment where every Inter fan surely did a double take, wondering how this would be called off or somehow not given after roughly seven hours of gameplay from Inter with no goal. It counted, and finally the weight was off of the team.
The assist from Nicolo Barella. The finish from Lautaro Martinez.— CBS Sports Golazo ⚽️ (@CBSSportsGolazo) March 4, 2022
The corner flag didn't stand a chance. pic.twitter.com/BjV4kWsmjM
After the goal, Lautaro began to shoot constantly, something he has not been doing recently. Inter’s number 10 stung Sepe’s hands on 26 minutes then created another chance for himself with some shifty footwork 10 minutes later. His second goal of the night then came seconds later, as Barella played him in yet again. This time he found the finish and pushed Inter firmly clear of Salernitana before halftime.
Much like the first half ended, the second half began with the Lautaro and Barella show, this time with the striker trying to play in the midfielder to return the favor of the first two goals. The chance was cut out, but Inter looked very much up for more goals.
Lautaro completed his hat trick 10 minutes into the half by slotting home a cross from his strike partner Dzeko. Getting both strikers involved was just what Inter needed after such a dry spell.
LAUTARO MARTINEZ GETS HIS HAT-TRICK. pic.twitter.com/BaHiVKIbTq— CBS Sports Golazo ⚽️ (@CBSSportsGolazo) March 4, 2022
Substitutions came shortly after the third goal. Andrea Ranocchia, Arturo Vidal, and most notably Robin Gosens entered the pitch for the final half hour. Just moments into his Serie A debut for Inter, Gosens set up a goal for Dzeko, instantly showing his worth to the fans in attendance. A perfect start for the German and a much needed goal for the Bosnian.
Edin Dzeko makes it FOUR for Inter— CBS Sports Golazo ⚽️ (@CBSSportsGolazo) March 4, 2022
Robin Gosens with the assist off the bench. pic.twitter.com/dPkcdW8stU
On four goals, Inter were cruising to a victory. However, an Inzaghi team does not pass up a goal when the opportunity is there, no matter the score. Dzeko got his second of the match just minutes later as Denzel Dumfries found himself in on goal on the wing, crossing in to the onrushing striker who made no mistake. With 20 minutes to go, Inter had a chance at a match ending with two hat tricks since Mauro Icardi and Ever Banega both bagged three goals against Atalanta in March of 2017.
The bid for dual hat tricks ended shortly after, as Dzeko made way for Joaquin Correa. Just back from injury, Correa had multiple chances on goal, but could not convert. Inter threatened multiple times for a sixth, and Salernitana even forced a save out of Samir Handanovic, but the score line remained at 5-0 as the final whistle blew on the match. A much needed win for Inter in great fashion.
Handanovic - 6.5: Another clean sheet while making saves when called upon. No complaints here. If Samir is confident, the team is confident.
Skriniar - 6.5: A very no-nonsense showing for Inter’s number 37. Was dangerous going forward and did well when called upon in defense.
de Vrij - 6: Did not have much to do, but seemed shaky on the few times Inter were countered against. No mistakes in particular, though.
Bastoni - 7: He did his thing on both ends of the pitch. When he, Correa, and Gosens are all forward on the left, Inter sliced Salernitana’s lines open easily. Really exciting to think about seeing more of that.
Darmian - 7: Called into the match to play on his off side on short notice, but he reads the game so well that it did not make much of a difference. Very impressive.
Calhanoglu - 6.5: Has gotten back to getting forward more often and it has really helped his game. Solid set pieces as always as well.
Brozovic - 7: Salernitana are not exactly a pressing side, so Brozo enjoyed his time on the ball. A vintage performance from him.
Barella - 8.5: Inter needed him to find his game again and he did today. Two beautiful assists for Lautaro and could have had at least one more. More of this, please.
Dumfries - 8: Really able to get to his game today, getting forward, pressing, and generally causing problems for the opposition on his side. Good to see him get an assist as well.
Dzeko - 8: His quickfire brace was extremely clinical. Looked to be enjoying his football all around as he also dropped deep to link up play. He was back to early season Dzeko and hopefully he can keep it up.
Lautaro - 9 (MOTM): Finally stepped up to the plate with his hat trick, but could have had even more. If this is the start of one of his torrid scoring streaks, Inter are really in business.
Vidal - 7: The opposition had virtually left the pitch by the time he got on, but he did a great job with his passing and defending. Still good depth in Serie A, but maybe not for the salary he’s on.
Ranocchia - 6.5: Did not have much to do, but did help contribute to a clean sheet. Grazie, Frog.
Gosens - 7: Showed everyone why Inter went out to get him in January despite still being injured at the time. Got an assist and unlucky not to follow it up with a goal. The future is looking bright.
Gagliardini - 6.5: An expert at handling smaller sides. He came on for Brozovic and it felt like the Croatian never left the pitch.
Correa - 6.5: Still knocking the rust off, but getting into dangerous positions. Should have scored, but still brings a really dangerous aspect to the team when he’s running at opposition defenses.
Inzaghi - 7.5: Had to get this match right and he did so perfectly. Started the perfect team and brought on subs when needed to give some players rests and give valuable playing time to players still returning to form. Not a step wrong. Hopefully he has successfully weathered his first Inter winter blackout.
Inter will be back on the pitch Tuesday against Liverpool at Anfield for a match that will likely be little more than a formality for an Inter team that will be fully focused on domestic competition. It is yet to be seen what sort of approach Inter will travel to England with, but the match next weekend against Torino is no doubt more valuable in terms of Inter’s season goals.