It may not have been pretty, and it may have been more work than necessary, but Inter rebound with a league win over Hellas Verona after grinding out a Coppa Italia win just days prior. After Lautaro Martinez opened the score, near chances and denied penalties littered the match. Regardless of the lack of finishing for the final 87 minutes, Inter managed to get over the line to pull level on points with Juventus and just a point behind second place Milan.
As expected, Inter made wholesale changes to the side that scraped past Parma. The team more resembled the one that let the lead slip in Monza. Only Nicolo Barella could not return for this match from the team that started against Monza, as he recovers from a knock. Marcelo Brozovic, Romelu Lukaku, and Samir Handanovic are also still recovering from injury.
In comparison to recent years, Verona are struggling mightily. Constant squad and managerial turnover has caught up with the club, as they sit firmly in the relegation zone. Service for striker Milan Djuric has dried up this season, with the big number 19 scoring only one goal so far this season, an indication of some of the many problems faced by manager Marco Zaffaroni.
INTER (3-5-2): Onana; Skriniar, Acerbi, Bastoni; Darmian, Gagliardini, Calhanoglu, Mkhitaryan, Dimarco; Dzeko, Lautaro.
HELLAS VERONA (3-4-2-1): Montipò; Dawidowicz, Hien, Ceccherini; Depaoli, Tameze, Ilic, Doig; Kallon, Lazovic; Djuric.
Inter started in the best way possible, first to every challenge and first to score. A run from Hnerikh Mhkitaryan ended near the Verona box, leaving the ball to do a wonderful pinball impression before falling to the feet of Lautaro, who was clever and accurate in his finish past Lorenzo Montipo.
Placed to perfection— CBS Sports Golazo ⚽️ (@CBSSportsGolazo) January 14, 2023
Lautaro Martinez gives Inter an early lead. ⚫ pic.twitter.com/gHjnIWyHK8
Lautaro nearly had a second around the 15-minute mark, as a great passage of team play split the Verona defense and left Roberto Gagliardini with space to cross, but the Argentine’s header was not dangerous enough to trouble Montipo.
Just before the end of the half, Mhkitaryan tried his luck from about the same distance as Lautaro, but his chance fizzed just wide, sending Inter to the half with the narrowest of advantages.
The second half was a story of fouls and bookings. Some given, some not. Both Pawel Dawidowicz and Isak Hien could have been given second yellow cards for fouls committed, but were not.
Dawidowicz used a foul in his own favor late on though, as Lautaro skipped past the Polish defender and looped home a shot over Montipo, but the goal was cancelled because referee Michael Fabbri decided that Lautaro had fouled his man, despite the challenge looking more than fair.
The decision for Dawidowicz to go down saved his team a goal and allowed the visitors to put on some serious pressure late in the match, similar to Monza. This culminated in the only save made by Andre Onana in the match on substitute Ibrahim Sulemana.
Both teams failed to create any real chances in the final 20 minutes, which sent a full San Siro with a 1-0 win that felt a little more tenuous at times than many would have preferred. Nonetheless, Inter have tightened the field in the top four of Serie A and now make the trip to play the Supercoppa with a positive result to look back on.
Onana - 6: Only had one save to make but got his wires crossed with his defenders a handful of times. Still smoothing out that understanding.
Skriniar - 6.5: Doing his thing as captain as always. The contract saga does not seem to be something that phases him once he sets foot on the pitch, credit to him for being able to set that aside.
Acerbi - 6.5: A very capable defender when Inter are setting up deep. As long as there’s no space in behind him, it is hard to find a way through him.
Bastoni - 6.5: Had one of his best defensive performances other than the Napoli match in recent memory. Did not get forward, but did not necessarily have to.
Darmian - 6.5: A steady presence whenever his number is called to start. Was not getting at his man in attack as he has been recently, but still a good performance.
Gagliardini - 6.5: Most Interisti just ask that he does nothing catastrophic when he is on the pitch and he delivered on that wish. Even disrupted Verona’s midfield play pretty effectively.
Calhanoglu - 6: Not his best performance, but he was not quite fully fit. His hamstring issue kept his contributions to a minimum.
Mkhitaryan - 6.5: A makeup performance for his late mistake at Monza. Massive in creating the lone goal of the match.
Dimarco - 6: Not as much a factor against his former team as may have been expected, but still not a foot wrong overall.
Dzeko - 6: Hackled and whacked at by the Verona defense which kept him out of much of the play. Very little happening for him in this one.
Lautaro - 7 (MOTM): No hangovers from the World Cup celebrations can be detected to this point. Another decisive goal since the return from break. Looking at his best. Hope it is more than just one of his famed streaks.
Asllani - 6.5: Looked up for it after getting some playing time midweek. Nearly scored but continues to improve.
Correa - 4: There is a heated competition in this squad between Joaquin Correa and Romelu Lukaku to see who can drop the worst attacking performances of the season. Let’s just say the race is still neck and neck after this one.
Gosens/Barella/Carboni - N/A
Inzaghi - 6: Got the win, but not much else. While points matter above all, he does need to improve on the squad’s game management when up by a single goal because this could have easily been Monza 2.0.
Up next for Inter will be a defense of their Supercoppa Italiana title in Saudi Arabia against Scudetto winners AC Milan. The two have not gone head-to-head for a cup trophy since the 2011 Supercoppa, which Milan won. Inter will be looking to reverse this fate and take home the first trophy of the 2022-2023 season.