Inter never quite got into first gear under the Friday night lights on the coast, but the Nerazzurri didn’t need much to take all three points from Thiago Motta’s Spezia. Goals from Brozovic and Lautaro had Inter in cruise control before a Giulio Maggiore wondergoal made sure we couldn’t turn the TV off without breaking a sweat, but Alexis Sanchez iced the cake in stoppage time and kept Inter on track in the title race.
Simone Inzaghi made a handful of changes from last week’s 2-0 win over Verona, with Alessandro Bastoni and Danilo D’Ambrosio slotting back into the backline over Federico Dimarco and Stefan de Vrij. Lautaro Martinez made a return from yellow card accumulation suspension, but the strike partnership of Edin Dzeko and Joaquin Correa remained intact, along with Perisic over Gosens on the flank.
Inter dominated possession from the word go, but Spezia crafted the first real chance when Emmanuel Gyasi popped in behind in the 5th minute, only for Samir Handanovic to close down the Ghanian before he could get a shot on target. Inter’s first look at goal came in the 13th minute, with Dzeko poking a close-range effort off the bottom of the post. That was just about it in terms of final third action throughout the opening stages, as Inter was consistently frustrated by Spezia’s determination in defense and forced to settle for a few fruitless long-range efforts from Hakan Calhanoglu.
Despite the Turk’s best efforts, it would be his midfield partner Marcelo Brozovic that finally opened the scoring for Inter with a wonder strike in the 31st minute.
MARCELO BROZOVIC. TOP CORNER.— CBS Sports Golazo ⚽️ (@CBSSportsGolazo) April 15, 2022
His first Serie A goal of the season. pic.twitter.com/FTaTSmP4Ro
Inter had a few more half-chances before the first half came to a close, with the good guys up 1-0 and leading the stats with 70% possession and 9 attempts, but the attacking performance was a bit too toothless, with just 2 shots on target.
The Nerazzurri looked a bit sleepy after the interval and Albanian striker Rey Manaj (ex Inter youth product) put a header just wide of the far post minutes in. Luckily that was nothing more than a warning sign, and Inter soon regained control. Chances remained at a premium, however, and when they did come Inter’s finishing wasn’t always up to par. Perisic scuffed a Calhanoglu cross out for a goal kick with an open Dzeko lurking behind him, while Dumfries skied a bouncing ball from inside the six-yard box.
Inter finally created some breathing room in the 73rd minute, with Lautaro making an instant impact off the bench.
Ivan Perišić Lautaro Martínez— CBS Sports Golazo ⚽️ (@CBSSportsGolazo) April 15, 2022
Inter double their lead against Spezia. ⚫ pic.twitter.com/pzNZ2dHE3R
The Nerazzurri seemed set to cruise to the final whistle but Spezia made things interesting in the 88th minute via a superb strike into the top corner from Maggiore.
Giulio Maggiore pulls one back in style— CBS Sports Golazo ⚽️ (@CBSSportsGolazo) April 15, 2022
Game on? pic.twitter.com/2Nlg2Ft7K5
Inter suddenly seemed unsure of itself and struggled to find control in the final few minutes but Sanchez eased its worries with a 3rd goal of the night to seal the three points for the good guys deep into stoppage time.
3 goals ✅— CBS Sports Golazo ⚽️ (@CBSSportsGolazo) April 15, 2022
3 points ✅
Inter go top of Serie A pic.twitter.com/kgQwGQdqAu
Handanovic - 6.5: Unlucky not to get a clean sheet, there wasn’t anything he could have done to keep Maggiore’s rocket out. Didn’t have much to do otherwise but his early stop on Gyasi felt like an important moment.
Bastoni - 7: Back in the XI and deservedly so. Completed 8 long balls and won 8 duels but exited in the second half with an injury - hopefully nothing serious but no word yet.
Skriniar - 7.5: Another monstrous showing from Skriniar. A team-high 97 touches, 8 completed long balls, 5 clearances, 4 duels won, and 2 blocked shots.
D’Ambrosio - 7: Superb in the first half, capped by the assist for Brozovic’s goal where he showed off some impressive hold-up play skills. Struggled a bit defensively but still manage two tackles and five duels won.
Perisic - 7.5: As much as we want to see Gosens get an extended run of minutes, there’s simply no benching Perisic anytime soon. Notched another assist on Lautaro’s goal, made 4 key passes, attempted 7 crosses, and won 6 duels.
Calhanoglu - 7: Another complete midfield performance from Hakan. Made 5 accurate crosses and long balls each, completed 91% of his passes, made 2 interceptions, and won 3 duels.
Brozovic - 7.5 (Man of the Match): Opened his Serie A account with a picture-perfect goal and was his usual self in the center of the park, completing 5 long balls and 91% of his passes with the second-most touches on the team.
Barella - 7: Turned his goal against Verona last week into some positive momentum, putting in a very good showing at Spezia. Made 2 key passes, 3 tackles, and won 7 duels in a quite busy ninety minutes.
Dumfries - 5.5: Not his greatest night. Missed the final product on a number of occasions and wasn’t able to make much of a mark, finishing the night with 0 crosses or key passes and a few iffy moments in possession.
Correa - 6: Failed to do much of anything except bungle a decent chance in the first half when he chose to dribble instead of shoot from point-blank range. Ended the night with 32 touches and just two blocked shots. In his defense, though, Dzeko looks much better partnered with Correa than Lautaro.
Dzeko - 6: The Bosnian didn’t have anything to write home about but he looked far more comfortable linking up with Correa than Lautaro, especially in the final third. Goals need to start coming for this partnership to last (and today it was Lautaro that found the net) but if Correa can stay healthy it at least gives Inzaghi another attack to test.
Inzaghi - 7.5: A little disappointing to see Gosens remain on the bench but Perisic proved Inzaghi right and then some. Inzaghi also managed to give Lautaro and de Vrij some rest ahead of the Coppa derby midweek, and his attacking subs both made huge impacts.
Milan’s win over Genoa means Inter remains one point back of the Rossoneri, albeit with the game against Bologna yet to be played. The two teams meet Tuesday in leg two of the Coppa Italia semi-finals before Milan visits Lazio and Inter plays Roma on the weekend in domestic play. This next week might very well define who wins the league, so buckle up.