Pre-international break struggles meant Inter desperately needed to get back on track with three points when it visited Torino, and though the Nerazzurri had to wait almost an hour for the breakthrough, it got the job done. Though it wasn’t always pretty (see the first half) goals from Lautaro and Hakan Calhanoglu followed Marcus Thuram’s 59th-minute game-winner in a fairly routine 3-0 win over Torino.
Simone Inzaghi made 2 changes from the Bologna draw, bringing Stefan de Vrij and Matteo Darmian in for Alessandro Bastoni and Denzel Dumfries, respectively. Torino, meanwhile, was without starting striker Duvan Zapata, with Pietro Pellegri serving as his replacement.
Inter controlled the vast majority of possession throughout the opening stages, albeit with little to show for it. In fact, it was Yann Sommer who was the first keeper called into action when he pawed a Demba Seck shot away from the top corner in the 35th minute. The Swiss keeper was busy again a few minutes later on a Pellegri header, but he managed to keep the Italian’s effort out. Inter, meanwhile, was invisible in the final third and put only one shot on target from seven total despite holding 64% of possession, compared to Torino’s 3 on target from 3.
Inzaghi had seen enough early into the second half and made a triple change in the 57th minute, introducing Carlos Augusto, Denzel Dumfries, and Davide Frattesi. The reward was almost immediate - Thuram found the breakthrough in the 59th minute off a Dumfries assist.
Denzel Dumfries puts it on a plate for Marcus Thuram!— CBS Sports Golazo ⚽️ (@CBSSportsGolazo) October 21, 2023
Inter break the deadlock! pic.twitter.com/IiQI8hWa7U
With fresh legs and momentum from the goal, Inter stepped into full control and made it 2-0 in the 67th minute. Lautaro notched his 11th of the season off a Francesco Acerbi flick-on header on a corner.
Who else?!— CBS Sports Golazo ⚽️ (@CBSSportsGolazo) October 21, 2023
Lautaro Martínez scores his league-leading 11th Serie A goal of the season. Inter's captain is on fire. pic.twitter.com/sWMgVXYjCK
With a multi-goal advantage secured, Inter was able to coax the game to its end, although not without a bit of drama. Saba Sazonov first missed a set-piece rebound from point-blank in the 90th minute, before Inter was awarded a penalty even later on after Mkhitaryan was taken down. Calhanoglu made no mistake from the spot and iced a 3-0 win in the 95th minute. The stats sheet backed up the scoreline, with Inter edging the expected goals battle 2.52xg to 0.38xg and shots 14 (4 on target) to 7 (3).
Sommer - 7: Made some very important saves in the first half and added another clean sheet to his name.
Acerbi - 7: Played out of position at left center back but you wouldn’t have noticed. Acerbi managed 6 duels won, 1 clearance, 1 key pass, and 3 accurate long balls.
de Vrij - 7: Another solid showing from the Dutchman, boasting a 93% passing rate, 6 clearances, 4 duels won, and 1 blocked shot.
Pavard - 6.5: Pavard wasn’t quite as active as his defensive partners, but still ended the day with 2 duels won, 2 accurate long balls, 1 blocked shot, and 1 interception.
Dimarco - 6: Struggled to make much of an impact before an early exit, managing just a 76% passing rate and one key pass.
Mkhitaryan - 6: Put in more work off the ball than on it, tallying 3 clearances and 2 interceptions but an 82% passing rate and zero key passes.
Calhanoglu - 8 (Man of the Match): Another excellent performance in midfield capped off by a goal. Led Inter in touches (72), had 4 key passes, 4 successful crosses, 2 accurate long balls, and won 7 duels in quite the well-rounded shift.
Barella - 6: Not at his best (seems like we’ve said that a lot this season), and although he did manage 3 key passes, an early substitution in favor of Frattesi was the right move from Inzaghi.
Darmian - 6: Wasn’t much of a force on the wing with 0 crosses attempted, but looked solid at center back after Dumfries was brought on, notching 3 clearances and 3 duels won.
Lautaro - 7: Just needed two shots to extend his lead atop the goalscoring charts, drifting throughout the game without much impact before that one chance finally fell his way.
Thuram - 7: Continues to look the part, adding another goal to his quite solid tally of 3 goals and 5 assists in Serie A. Added on 8 duels and 1 key pass for good measure.
Inzaghi - 8: Needed the win and got it. Also wasn’t afraid to make subs early and often when things weren’t going well, which ended up being crucial to the victory.
Jerseys - 10: More of this white shirt, blue shorts combo, please.
Inter takes back first place with 22 points at least until Milan/Juventus on Sunday night. Next up for the Nerazzurri is a home meeting with RB Salzburg on Tuesday before a Roma clash in one week’s time.