It’s been a long week for Inter. The derby loss followed by a loss to Bayern Munich have given Simone Inzaghi plenty of questions to answer across the pitch. For the majority of this match, those questions of the team’s intensity and fitness remained seemingly unanswered. Despite the still lingering sluggishness, a goal on the end of a nifty Nicolo Barella assist for Marcelo Brozovic just before 90 minutes proved enough to give Inter a needed three points.
After making wholesale changes for the Champions League loss to Bayern, Inzaghi reverted his Inter team mostly back to what it looked like against Milan. Samir Handanovic returned to goal after sitting for Andre Onana in the midweek, Matteo Darmain started on the left of the midfield five, and Federico Dimarco started in the back three.
Torino, without manager Ivan Juric as well as Aleksei Miranchuk and Samuele Ricci, boasted a couple of familiar faces for Interisti. Valentino Lazaro started on the right of the visitors’ midfield four while former winger Yann Karamoh spent the match on the bench.
INTER (3-5-2): Handanovic; Skriniar, de Vrij, Dimarco; Dumfries, Barella, Brozovic, Calhanoglu, Darmian; Dzeko, Lautaro.
TORINO (3-4-2-1): Milinkovic-Savic; Djidji, Buongiorno, Rodriguez; Lazaro, Lukic, Linetty, Vojvoda; Vlasic, Seck; Sanabria.
If anyone intended to watch this match but was late to turn it on, they did not miss anything. Torino’s rigid defense held strong, but was not tested much by a very timid Inter that refused to even leave first gear.
As seems to happen with this Inter side, buildup became a difficult task early on. Stringing together more than a couple of passes seemed impossible at times. Nonetheless, Inter had an early chance that was flashed over by Lautaro Martinez.
Torino’s best chance of the half came after the Lautaro chance, with Nikola Vlasic finding space for a shot that had to be saved by the boot of Handanovic, who looked very motivated after spending a match on the bench.
Inter did not register a shot on target in the first half, making for some grim viewing at times. Luckily, Torino only had one. Both sides entered halftime with much to be desired.
Inter started the second half on the back foot, giving Torino a couple of chances right out of the break. One of which had to be saved by Handanovic.
Disaster nearly struck for Torino after a solid start, with Antonio Sanabria being shown a red card for an elbow to the face of Hakan Calhanoglu, but a VAR intervention downgraded the card to yellow.
The visitors nearly opened the scoring through former Milan defender Ricardo Rodriquez, who sent a low free kick in on goal, but the safe hands of Handanovic pushed the chance away.
After making some changes just before the 70 minute mark, bringing in Joaquin Correa and Alessandro Bastoni for Edin Dzeko and Federico Dimarco, Inter flipped a switch that seemed to be stuck in the off position.
Two more changes in the form of debutant Raoul Bellanova and Henrikh Mhkitaryan ratcheted up the pressure on Torino even more. Lautaro nearly guided home a free header. Another miss, but the most Inter had seen of the opposition penalty box all match.
Just before the clock hit 90, Inter’s pressure paid off. Barella picked up a loose ball on the edge of the penalty area and unfurled a perfect ball over the top onto the foot of Brozovic. The Croatian’s shot looped over Milinkovic-Savic and dribbled just inside the far post for Inter’s winner.
MARCELO BROZOVIĆ WITH THE WINNER IN THE 89TH MINUTE! pic.twitter.com/S2ktj4xeaW— CBS Sports Golazo ⚽️ (@CBSSportsGolazo) September 10, 2022
After the relief of the goal, Inter needed to just see out added time, which they did without any hitches. A slow burn of a match ended with a narrow Inter win at the death. It may not have been pretty, but defeating a team managed by Juric is never a small feat. Inter will be able to take this momentum into the Champions League against Viktoria Plzen, another match that the Nerazzuri will need to win if they want to keep their hopes alive to advance to the knockout rounds.
Handanovic - 8 (MOTM): From the lowest of lows to the highest of highs. Inter needed steady hands and timely saves and got both today. He was challenged by Onana and answered. Hopefully the clean sheet is one of many this season.
Skriniar - 6: Still adjusting after joining the team late, but starting to get there. Nearly had a goal of his own as well. Progress on both sides of the ball that will no doubt help to build his form and confidence.
de Vrij - 6: Slow and unsteady at times, but able to make up for it with the cover of his goalkeeper and defensive partners. Still needs to improve for this team to go anywhere this season.
Dimarco - 5: Pretty quiet as he was out of position. His defensive skills aren’t enough to warrant consistently playing him at center back, but it is hard to keep his ball-striking capabilities out of the team.
Darmian - 6: Playing out of position again, but was good defensive cover for Dimarco. However, that role hampered any contribution going forward.
Calhanoglu - 5.5: Played harder than he has in weeks, but still a step out of sync with his teammates. Too many misplaced passes that absolutely killed an already struggling buildup phase.
Brozovic - 6: Also part of the midfield disarray, but showed his quality when it mattered for the goal. That’s two goals in two consecutive Serie A matches for him, already matching his total from last season.
Barella - 5.5: Played an absolutely beautiful ball for his assist, but his performance left plenty to be desired after being benched in the Champions League. A step in the right direction though, even if it is just a small one.
Dumfries - 5.5: Currently a step off the pace he set when he was one of the main attacking threats to open the season. Slow and unable to link play. Might need a rest.
Lautaro - 7.5: Didn’t show up on the scoresheet, but led the team from the front with his hard work. Dropped off when he needed and pressed far forward in other times. A great performance all around.
Dzeko - 5: When he comes off the bench, he looks great. When he’s rewarded for playing well off the bench by being given a start, he looks clunky. This team needs Lukaku back if they want a truly dangerous front two.
Correa - 6: Didn’t look his best against Bayern when starting, but linked up very well with Lautaro off the bench. This paradox with him and Dzeko is something that has to be giving Inzaghi fits.
Bastoni - 6.5: Flashed that skill in going forward and linking up with teammates that has made him so great over periods of the last few seasons. A step in the right direction for him as well.
Bellanova - 6.5: Made his first Serie A appearance for Inter and did not let the occasion get to him. Outside of one slip, he offered a positive attacking option on the right. Perhaps he can give Dumfries a break soon if he continues in this fashion.
Mhkitaryan - 6.5: Brings attacking quality every time he replaces Calhanoglu off the bench. It is great for Inter not to have a drop-off between Hakan and his replacement this season.
Gosens - N/A
Inzaghi - 6.5: Answered a couple of terrible performances with a clean sheet and a win. He didn’t have the attack spot on early, but made the necessary changes to get a win. Probably the most pragmatic performance you’ll ever see from his team.
Inter needed a win here to take momentum into the match against Plzen before next weekend’s test away to Udinese. The Friulians have looked very good this season, especially in their dismantling of Jose Mourinho’s Roma. The Nerazzurri have the spark they need to string some wins together, but it will take another step forward in quality on the pitch to make it happen.