The warning signs were there on the Stadio Via del Mare pitch, and two weeks and a few hundred kilometers northwest, the signs manifested into something far more serious. Inter’s third match of the season ended in calamity at the hands of Simone Inzaghi’s old club Lazio, but much of the blame has to be focused inwards. From Inzaghi’s decision to bench Hakan Calhanoglu in favor of Roberto Gagliardini and his overly cautious subs to a team-wide dreadful performance, it was the perfect storm of factors to hand Inter its first loss of the season by a score of 3-1.
Inzaghi sprung a few surprises in the starting eleven, giving Gagliardinin and Dimarco the nod over Calhanoglu and Gosens. Lazio lined up in Maurizio Sarri’s ever present 4-3-3, with Alessio Romagnoli in defense and Ciro Immobile leading the line, while ex-Inter man Matias Vecino started in the middle.
The first half was a mostly back and forth affair with a scattering of chances on either end. Handanovic tipped a low Immobile shot away from the corner while Lukaku sent a Dimarco corner over in the two best chances of the half. That is, until Felipe Anderson made it 1-0 to the hosts in the 40th minute when he buried a SMS chip over the Inter backline.
Sergej Milinković-Savić ➡️ Felipe Anderson.— CBS Sports Golazo ⚽️ (@CBSSportsGolazo) August 26, 2022
Lazio's midfielder plays a delicious ball and Felipe Anderson finishes it, Lazio are ahead. pic.twitter.com/aKc70ISsMZ
The half drew to a close with Inter holding 56% possession and 6 shots versus Lazio’s 5, but the Nerazzurri looked a step behind their counterparts and a tad sluggish despite starting stronger.
That theme continued after the interval and Handanovic was called into action early to paw away an Immobile shot from a tight angle. It didn’t take long for the 32-year-old to regret his miss thanks to an equalizer for the good guys via El Toro, poking a Dumfries header past Ivan Provedel.
Lautaro Martínez levels it up!— CBS Sports Golazo ⚽️ (@CBSSportsGolazo) August 26, 2022
We have a game in Rome. pic.twitter.com/VKNbIrRci0
Dumfries almost turned from provider to goalscorer minutes later when he sent a Dimarco cross bouncing towards the net only for Provedel to tip it over the bar just in time. Both managers went to their bench as the hour-mark, with Gosens and Darmian (in for Dumfries and Dimarco) on for Inter and Pedro and Luis Alberto entering for Lazio. The two Spaniards linked up in the 75th minute mark to find the go-ahead goal for the Biancocelesti, though almost all of the credit has to go to Alberto for his rocket into the upper ninety.
LUIS ALBERTO WITH A GOLAZO!— CBS Sports Golazo ⚽️ (@CBSSportsGolazo) August 26, 2022
He comes off of the bench and smashes the ball into the net. pic.twitter.com/eSSXJcUol9
Despite the introductions of Dzeko, Correa, and Calhanoglu, Inter never looked capable of finding another equalizer and it was Lazio that put in the 4th goal of the night via a curler from Pedro.
Pedro puts the icing on the cake!— CBS Sports Golazo ⚽️ (@CBSSportsGolazo) August 26, 2022
A beautiful finish and Lazio have their third. pic.twitter.com/kXC8Z4Z6RE
And that was that. Defeat number one for Inter in 2022/23.
Handanovic - 5: Conceding three is never a good look for a keeper but there wasn’t much he could have done for either of the last two. Handanovic’s lack of movement or closing down Anderson the ball left a bit to be desired on the opener and the goalscorer even said as much in his post game interview.
Bastoni - 6: Not bad from Bastoni, who lead Inter in touches (95), had 4 accurate long balls, a 95% passing rate, and won 5 duels.
de Vrij - 5.5: An unfortunate return to the de Vrij of 2021/22 and never looked comfortable against Lazio’s three-pronged attack.
Skriniar - 5.5: Won 4 duels, made 2 clearances, and had a 97% passing rate but struggled a bit against Anderson and Pedro on the dribble.
Dimarco - 4: Terrible defending on Anderson’s opener, completely losing the Brazilian and barely tracking back whatsoever. Did manage 8 crosses and 5 key passes going forward, but far from good enough from Dimarco.
Gagliardini - 5: Sure, Gagliardini has had some success against SMS in the past. But Inter should always play its best players against the Lazios of the world no matter what (should every team bench its attacking mid against SMS?), and Gagliardini is definitely not on that list. Inter’s midfield was disjointed and could never string much together, in part thanks to Gagliardini’s mere 41 touches (7th on Inter) and 83% passing accuracy.
Brozovic - 5: One of the worst showings from the Croatian in recent memory. Could rarely link the defense and midfield the way he usually does and lost possession 10 times (second on Inter).
Barella - 5.5: Failed to make much of an impact and seemed a bit shy to make the type of plays Inter needed with Calhanoglu out, though he still tallied 3 key passes and 4 crosses.
Dumfries - 6.5: Assisted Lautaro’s strike and notched 3 key passes and wom 4 duels, making his premature exit in place of Darmian a suprise.
Lukaku - 5: Shut down by Romagnoli, his favorite training cone from when the Italian was at Milan.
Lautaro - 7: Got his first goal of the campaign but didn’t offer much beyond that, still not at peak understanding levels with Lukaku.
Inzaghi - 3: A number of questionable choices from the get-go that were since proven thoroughly wrong. Calhanoglu sure would have been helpful to generate some sort of chances in the final third, so starting Gagliardini, let alone leaving him in for 80 minutes was inexcusable. As was taking Dumfries off when he had been one of Inter’s best players, just to avoid having Gosens and the Dutchman on the field at the same time. The bottom line is that Inzaghi’s over cautiousness and refusal to give chances to new signings (Asllani, Onana) is only going to hurt Inter and has to be fixed sooner rather than later.
Luckily Inter gets a chance to bounce back in just a few days when Cremonese visits the Meazza Tuesday but the focus will really be on next Saturday’s derby della Madonnina. A win there and Friday will be forgotten.