After a massive title challenge slip against Bologna midweek, Inter responded with a win in a match that required nothing less than three points. The visitors were not at full strength, and had just been dealt a massive blow, but did manage to pull out a win against a very in form Udinese side and keep their title hopes alive in the slightest margins.
Riding high after their 4-0 demolition of Fiorentina, Udinese were only missing Portuguese striker Beto for this match, who has been out since early April with a muscle injury. Gerard Deulofeu and Isaac Success started as the speedy strike partnership for Gabriele Cioffi’s team.
A sight for sore eyes, Samir Handanovic was fit enough to regain his starting spot in goal. Alessandro Bastoni could not start, giving Federico Dimarco the chance for another start. Crucially, Hakan Calhanoglu missed the match with an accumulation of yellow cards. Roberto Gagliardini took his spot in the midfield to support the typically cumbersome strike partnership of Edin Dzeko and Lautaro Martinez.
UDINESE (3-5-2): Silvestri; Perez, Becao, Mari; Molina, Arslan, Walace, Pereyra, Udogie; Deulofeu, Success.
INTER (3-5-2): Handanovic; Skriniar, de Vrij, Dimarco; Darmian, Barella, Brozovic, Gagliardini, Perisic; Dzeko, Lautaro.
The match began with some sloppy end to end play from both sides. The first chance to hit the target came from Udinese, who had a Roberto Pereyra bounce into the arms of Handanovic for his first save on his return to the lineup.
Despite the pedestrian start, Inter got on the board 12 minutes in from a front post Ivan Perisic header after a great corner delivery from Dimarco. The Croatian wingback has two goals in his last two now, giving Inter a much needed lead after last match.
Ivan Perišić gives Inter the lead on his 250th appearance for the club! pic.twitter.com/KRpiR9428C— CBS Sports Golazo ⚽️ (@CBSSportsGolazo) May 1, 2022
The hosts answered with a strong Walace shot from distance that was saved well by Handanovic. Dimarco almost doubled Inter’s lead shortly after with Dimarco picking up a loose ball and driving at the Udinese goal with the move ending in a deflected shot.
Ten minutes before the halftime whistle, Nicolo Barella split the Udinese defense open with a great pass to put Lautaro in on goal. Marco Silvestri made a good save to keep him out, but Dzeko was tripped as he came in for the rebound chance. The decision went to VAR and a penalty was given.
With Calhanoglu suspended, Lautaro was on penalty duty. Continuing his shoddy penalty record, the strike hit the post and rebounded back for Lautaro to put away for the second goal, which only stood because the rebound hit the back of Silvestri’s hand in a freak moment that Inter were lucky to get away with. Up two goals, Inter controlled the final moments of the first half and made it to the dressing room with a somewhat comfortable lead despite the less than comfortable performance.
Lautaro Martínez misses his penalty but he is on hand for the rebound.— CBS Sports Golazo ⚽️ (@CBSSportsGolazo) May 1, 2022
Inter double their lead. pic.twitter.com/1YSrpXe4HN
Looking to get a third to definitively kill off the match, Inter scuffed multiple chances to put the match away. Dzeko lost the ball in his feet while in on goal and Lautaro had a shot blocked in the box before a free kick for Udinese found the back of the net after a Handanovic save and a rebound that eventually found Ignacio Pussetto who could tap into an empty net.
With 18 minutes to hold onto a one goal lead, Inter had to hunker down to kill time. In this time, Inter still had two chances to extend the lead back to two goals. Joaquin Correa forced a save out of Silvestri shortly after his inclusion in the match. He also linked up with fellow substitute Arturo Vidal, who slotted a shot past the keeper, but was offside with Correa making the final pass too early.
Wasting time for Inter became a game of how many corners could be won consecutively. Alexis Sanchez worked some magic in the corner to take the sting out of the match late against an ascendant Udinese with the crowd behind them. It was by no means a beautiful performance, but it was what Inter needed on paper.
Handanovic - 6.5: Made his saves when he was asked, despite not being a full fitness. Goal was not on him. Great to see him back.
Dimarco - 6.5: Rebounded from getting dominated by Marko Arnautovic with an assist and a good performance overall. Extremely progressive in buildup.
de Vrij - 6: No outright mistakes, but he looks slower with every passing week. Whether it is age or need for new scenery, something needs to give.
Skriniar - 6.5: Busy cutting out balls into the speedy Udinese strikers all match. No complaints at all with this performance.
Perisic - 7 (MOTM): If there is one player trying to singlehandedly drag Inter to a Scudetto, it is him. Another goal has him up to seven this season, along with six assists. Can’t ask for more from him.
Gagliardini - 6: This is about the best that can be asked from him in a starting role. Stayed out of trouble and even contributed to the penalty won. Will be good to have Calhanoglu back for sure though.
Brozovic - 6: There is extra weight on the other two midfielders every time Gagliardini starts. This showed in his inability to really control this match. Not his best performance but still solid, especially in defense.
Barella - 6: Great pass for the chance that led to the penalty, but a step off in every aspect for the match overall. Came off with a knock to the knee, but will hopefully be able to recover by Friday.
Darmian - 6.5: A solid contribution as always. Solid in defense and a little slower than Dumfries in attack, but always looking for the right spaces and right passes.
Dzeko - 5: Both he and Lautaro are at a disadvantage when they start together. This match was not different. Bad touches, bad positioning, but smart to win the penalty.
Lautaro - 5: He should thank Silvestre for getting a touch on the missed penalty, which allowed him to erase his mistake with a goal. Pretty pedestrian overall, though.
Alexis - 6: Holds up the ball, but travels halfway back to his own penalty area in the process. This has caused Inter issues in the past, but did not in this one. Did do well to kill time late in the match.
Correa - 6: Got forward on the counter, but made mistakes on both of the chances he created. First shot straight at the keeper and then too eager to play the ball to Vidal on the second chance. Somehow positive and negative at the same time.
Vidal - 5.5: Looking clunky as the season comes to a close in the coming weeks. His best football looks well past him at this point. Provided an outlet but still struggled at times.
D’Ambrosio/Vecino - N/A
Inzaghi - 5.5: Tried to give the fragile Correa a rest, but did so at the cost of starting Dzeko and Lautaro. Good job in getting the team past the disaster in Bologna, but could have timed his subs better. The win is what matters at this point, though.
Next up for Inter is Empoli at home on Friday, another must-win. Scoreboard watching for the week will consist of hoping Verona can get a result against Milan, which is most definitely not out of the realm of possibility. Nonetheless, it will be up to Inter to continue to hold serve.