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Inter Milan 2-0 Lecce: Match Recap

Bisseck to the rescue

FC Internazionale v US Lecce - Serie A TIM Photo by Emilio Andreoli/Getty Images

With no Lautaro Martinez and a midweek 120 minutes weighing down the Nerazzurri’s legs, Inter's clash with Lecce didn’t have the look of a pretty affair. That was only a minor roadblock, however, thanks to a superstar showing from Yann Bisseck and a businesslike performance from the entire team. In fact, the eventual 2-0 scoreline was flattering to Lecce if anything, with Inter holding 68% of possession, tallying 20 shots (8 on target) and 2.68 expected goals to the visitors’ 11 efforts and 1.22xg. No one will be complaining though, with Inter up to four straight shutout victories and a four-point lead in first place going into the holidays.

Starting XIs

Inter’s XI (3-5-2)
Lecce’s XI (4-3-3)

Inter’s injury list continued to grow, with Lautaro Martinez and Federico Dimarco joining Stefan de Vrij, Denzel Dumfries, and Juan Cuadrado on the treatment table (maybe no Coppa Italia is a blessing in disguise). Simone Inzaghi was subsequently forced to rely on Carlos Augusto and Marko Arnautovic to fill the gaps. Lecce, meanwhile, lined up in a 4-3-3 with Atalanta loanee Roberto Piccoli up front.

First Half

Inter began on the front foot and had its first clear look on goal in the 11th minute, but Arnautovic couldn’t direct a close-range effort anywhere other than directly at Lecce’s keeper Wladimiro Falcone. The Austrian missed an even better chance in the 21st minute, this time fluffing his lines entirely from a similar distance. Inter’s chance count continued to mount as the half wore on, but it wasn’t until the 40th minute that it really caused Lecce trouble when Yann Bisseck pounded a volley off the crossbar. The German wouldn’t be denied for much longer, however, and opened his Inter account with a rather unorthodox back-of-the-head header 43 minutes in.

Lecce should have equalized immediately on the stroke of halftime but Gabriel Strefezza skied a point-blank effort with Inter’s defense asleep. Despite that one moment of near-disaster, Inter was clearly deserving of its lead, boasting 73% possession and 9 shots to the visitors’ 5.

Second Half

The Nerazzurri received another warning that the result was far from wrapped up just five minutes into the second half when a handball penalty was called on Carlos Augusto, although a VAR check showed that his arm was as tucked in as possible and the decision was reversed. Inter had a few chances to double its lead afterward, the best of which was another Bisseck header pawed over the bar by Falcone, but by the 70th-minute mark Lecce had begun to take control while Inter moved to a more defensive posture. But just as it seemed we might be in for a nervy ending, a moment of magic in the final third quashed our concerns. Arnautovic set Barella in behind with an incredible backheel assist, and the Italian made no mistake with a calm finish after sending Falcone to the floor.

Any hopes of a Lecce comeback ended with Lameck Banda’s straight red in the 83rd minute for saying something not quite savory to the referee. Inter almost made it 3 in the 87th minute, but Falcone somehow kept a 25-yard bullet from Kristjan Asllani out of the upper ninety in the last major action at the San Siro in 2023.


Player Ratings

Sommer - 7: Was busier than usual, making 5 saves to preserve Inter’s incredible defensive record (7 goals conceded in 17 games!).

Bastoni - 7: Looked like he needed a rest, losing 10/15 duels, but still managed a 97% passing rate, 2 clearances, 2 interceptions, and 5 accurate long balls.

Acerbi - 6.5: Similar to Bastoni, three starts in a week have weighed down on Acerbi, but he was still a pillar at the back with 5 duels won, 3 clearances, and 1 interception.

Bisseck - 8 (Man of the Match): Dominant on both ends of the pitch, almost scoring a hattrick if not for Falcone, all while winning 4 duels and completing 94% of his passes. Pavard is gonna have to earn that starting spot back.

Augusto - 6.5: An unspectacular outing but far from a bad one, featuring 2 key passes, 1 clearance, 1 blocked shot, and 3/8 duels won.

Mkhitaryan - 6.5: A busy night for Mkhitaryan with 4 duels won, a 90% passing rate, and one key pass.

FC Internazionale v US Lecce - Serie A TIM Photo by Marco Luzzani/Getty Images

Calhanoglu - 7: Another strong shift in the center of the park. Made 4 key passes, had a 92% passing rate, and most important of all, assisted Bisseck’s opener with a stellar set-piece delivery.

Barella - 7: Was so-so before his goal, losing 12 of 16 duels, but showed his quality with that finish along with one key pass and a 93% passing accuracy.

Darmian - 6: Not quite as good on the wing as he is in the back three, but still a reliable contributor with 4 duels won, 1 clearance, and 1 key pass.

Arnautovic - 6.5: Left his finishing boots at home but did everything else right, pulling off the assist of the season on Barella’s goal and featuring quite regularly in the build-up with 2 key passes.

Thuram - 5.5: Struggled more than anyone without Lautaro, managing just 2 off-target shots and 7 duels won with most of the game passing him by.

Inzaghi - 7: No Lautaro, no problem. Inzaghi turned the page quickly on Wednesday’s Coppa defeat, and even with 5 players out, the results keep piling up.

FC Internazionale v US Lecce - Serie A TIM Photo by Emilio Andreoli/Getty Images

Inter remains first by four points over Juve (who beat Frosinone), and next up is a visit to Genoa on Friday the 29th. Until then, happy holidays to all and Forza Inter!