Inter’s Sunday night tilt with Frosinone had the makings of a trap game - the Nerazzurri were coming off a big midweek road win in the Champions League to play a deceptively difficult young side, while rivals such as Milan and Napoli had dropped points, giving Inter a chance to make it a two-way race with Juventus for now. We’ve seen chances like that go begging in the past, but this time Federico Dimarco had other ideas. With only minutes left in what had been a scoreless and surprisingly balanced first half, the Italian scored the goal of the season via a magnificent chip from the halfway line (!!). Once it got the lead, Inter never looked back and by the time all was said and done, the good guys were more than deserving of the 2-0 scoreline, outshooting Frosinone 21 (6 on target) to 12 (3) and winning the expected goals battle dominantly with 3.27xg to 0.65xg.
Simone Inzaghi named a fully first-choice lineup with Lautaro, Barella, Dimarco, and Dumfries back from a rest against Salzburg. Kristjan Asllani missed out due to an injury picked up in the day leading up to the match.
Frosinone, meanwhile, switched from its usual 4-2-3-1 to a 3-4-3 to match Inter formationally with youngsters Matias Soule and Reiner leading the line.
The action began quite balanced with both teams trading the ball back and forth throughout the opening stages. Inter had the better chances, however, starting with a corner in the 10th minute that flew through the main crowd and found Thuram wide open at the far post. The Frenchman couldn’t direct the whizzing ball on frame, however.
Inter’s next look on goal came in the 19th minute via a Lautaro half-volley that Frosinone keeper Stefano Turati just barely tipped over the crossbar. The game calmed down soon after, with the visitors frustrating Inter time after time and neither side breaking through the opposition's defense. But just as it seemed as though the half was destined to finish scoreless, Federico Dimarco decided he’d had enough. The Italian pulled a rabbit out of his hat from the sideline at midfield with an audacious 50+ yard chip that caught Turati out and nestled into the back of the net.
FEDERICO DIMARCO, ARE YOU SERIOUS???— CBS Sports Golazo ⚽️ (@CBSSportsGolazo) November 12, 2023
An AUDACIOUS effort from long distance sends the San Siro into a frenzy! pic.twitter.com/e3DtTSCdYF
Dimarco’s goal-of-the-year candidate was the only difference between Inter and Frosinone through the first half, with possession at 48-52 in the latter’s favor and both teams level on 7 shots, although Inter had the more dangerous of opportunities with 3 efforts on target to 1 and 1.16 expected goals to 0.45xg.
Any hopes of an early Frosinone equalizer out of the break were quickly dashed. A piercing dribble from Thuram turned the visitors’ defense inside out before a clumsy Ilario Monterisi tackle took down the Inter forward in the box in the 47th minute. As usual, Hakan Calhanoglu made no mistake and buried the spot kick to become the highest-scoring Turkish player in Serie A history with 37 goals to his name.
Calm as you like from 12 yards. — CBS Sports Golazo ⚽️ (@CBSSportsGolazo) November 12, 2023
Inter's Hakan Çalhanoğlu makes Serie A history. pic.twitter.com/0wpBzi3Kfa
Frosinone manager Eusebio De Francesco made an attack-minded double change after the goal, bringing on Walid Cheddira (perhaps you’ll recognize his name from Morroco’s World Cup run) and Arijon Ibrahimovic to revert to their favored 4-2-3-1. The move almost paid off immediately when Cheddira sent a rolling shot off the far post, an early warning sign that Frosinone wasn’t done yet. The Canarini had more success going forward as the half continued, such as a long-range Riccardo Marchizza effort that forced Yann Sommer into a diving stop.
Inter caused problems on the counter as well, but Nicolo Barella couldn’t turn home a Dimarco cross from close range but a tight angle in the 64th minute. The Nerazzurri soon regained control over proceedings after that short burst from Frosinone and coaxed the game toward its conclusion quite comfortably. Frosinone never managed to seriously test Sommer again, managing just five shots in the entirety of the second half compared to Inter’s fourteen, and if not for an off-night from Lautaro, the scoreline would have been even more one-sided.
Sommer - 7: Another shutout and three saves to earn it, as well as a 91% passing rate and 5 accurate long balls from 8 attempts.
Bastoni - 7: A solid outing from Bastoni on both sides of the ball, featuring 4 duels won, 3 clearances, and 6 accurate long balls.
Acerbi - 8: Simply superb. Won 11 duels (a team-high), made 1 clearance, 1 blocked shot, 2 interceptions, 2 key passes, and 2 accurate long balls.
Darmian - 8: Fared quite similarly to Acerbi, leading Inter in touches (80), completed 4 long balls, made 4 clearances, 1 blocked shot, 3 interceptions, and 6 duels won. Both Acerbi (35 years old) and Darmian (33) have hit their prime at what would be the twilight of most players’ careers, but they’ve proven that quality is timeless.
Dimarco - 8: Three clearances, three duels won, three key passes, and, oh yeah, that goal. There was some debate over whether his chip was intentional or not, but it sure looks as though Inter’s homegrown product had his eyes on Frosinone’s goal and nowhere else (plus, if it was a cross, Dimarco never misses his target that badly).
Mkhitaryan - 7: Continues to age like wine despite one start after another. Notched 2 key passes, 2 clearances, 1 interception, and 1 blocked shot, as well as 4 duels won.
Calhanoglu - 8 (Man of the Match): Capped off an excellent all-round showing with the continuation of his perfect record from the spot to give Inter some very welcome cushioning. Also went 7 for 7 on long balls, made 2 key passes, had a 97% passing rate, and won 6 duels
Barella - 6.5: Not his best, but still a decent performance from Barella, who racked up 4 duels won, 3 clearances, 1 key pass, and 3 accurate long balls.
Dumfries - 6.5: A busy outing for the Dutchman, who won 5 duels, had a 91% passing rate, and tallied 2 shots, 1 clearance, and 1 interception before exiting for de Vrij as Inzaghi locked up the backline.
Lautaro - 6: A quiet game from the captain, rarely getting much action in the final third and missing the one golden chance that did fall his way.
Thuram - 6.5: Drew the penalty with some incredible dribbling (one of 2 successful dribbles all evening), won 4 duels, and was generally quite active in attack, but will be unhappy not to have scored on that chance of the corner inside ten minutes.
Inzaghi - 8: Job well done. A bit of a surprise to see a fully full-strength team but Frosinone proved Inzaghi correct and showed it’s no push-over. Another Yann Bisseck start would have been nice, but nothing worth docking points over and he’ll get his opportunities.
Inter retains its hold on first with 31 points, 2 clear of Juventus and 8 of Milan. There’ll be no action next week due to the international break, but mark your calendars for November 22nd. That’s the first Derby d’Italia of the season in Turin and a huge matchup in the title race, which is looking more and more like a two-horse between Inter and Juventus. For now, though, it’s time to enjoy a drama-free win over Frosinone, 6 wins out of 6 since the last international break, first place in Serie A, and an early ticket to the UCL knockout stages.