It’s like déjà vu all over again. At this point, I may as well start copying and pasting the intros to these articles because it’s the same story week after week on the pitch. Fresh off 3 straight Serie A losses, Inter went to Salernitana and dropped even more points. But at least the losing streak is over, right? The Nerazzurri didn’t even play horribly like last week against Fiorentina. It took 25 shots, 11 of which were on target, and limited Salernitana to just 3 on target. The expected goals tally was at 2.94 to 1.10 in Inter’s favor. With almost any other team, that's a recipe for a victory nine times out of ten. Not Inter, though. Horrible finishing (cough Romelu Lukaku cough), some superb goalkeeping from Guillermo Ochoa, and one freak goal from Antonio Candreva snatched the three points out of Inter’s hands and mean Inter’s last victory in any competition was over one month ago.
In a rare early Friday kickoff due to the Easter festivities, Simone Inzaghi made 7 changes to the lineup with the team coming off just a few days of rest since the Coppa Italia semifinal against Juventus and the UCL looming on Tuesday. Lukaku and Correa resumed their strike partnership from the Fiorentina game, while Kristjan Asllani received a very rare start in the center of midfield. Salernitana, meanwhile, lined up in a 3-4-2-1 with Guillermo Ochoa in goal, Inter-loanee Lorenzo Pirola in the backline, and Antonio Candreva in an attacking midfield role.
Proceedings got off to a perfect start for Inter, as the good guys found the opener just six minutes in. Lukaku headed down a long ball and found Robin Gosens careening forward inside the box. The German sent a first-time effort curling into the top corner - Inter’s first goal from open play in over 400 minutes of action.
Robin Gosens gives Inter a lead 6 minutes in! pic.twitter.com/D2OMb78Jn7— CBS Sports Golazo ⚽️ (@CBSSportsGolazo) April 7, 2023
The Nerazzurri remained on the front foot and forced Ochoa into a number of impressive saves throughout the opening stages before the tempo slowed as halftime neared. Inter ramped up the pressure in the final few minutes of action, however, and came oh-so-close to a second in the 45+2nd minute when Lukaku sent a header from the doorstep directly at Ochoa off a Dumfries cross. That proved to be the last major event of a first half in which Inter controlled from start to finish. The Nerazzurri totaled 11 shots (5 on target) and 60% possession, compared to a sole attempt from the hosts. All that was missing was another goal or two.
The second half began in much the same fashion as the first. Nicolo Barella struck the post from the top of the box in the 49th minute with a curling effort that would have nestled into the bottom of the net. Inter continued probing Salernitana’s goal but the Granata started to create a few chances of their own, although it was the visitors who should have scored the second goal of the evening in the 64th minute. An Asllani corner found Lukaku inside the six-yard box but the Belgian somehow put his diving header onto the crossbar before Ochoa pawed de Vrij’s rebound off the line just in time. It was Salernitana’s turn to hit the woodwork just a few minutes later through a close-range Boulaye Dia volley, but Inter held on for now. The final stages of action became back-and-forth as Salernitana pushed for an equalizer - and got it. None other than Antonio Candreva pulled the hosts level in the 90th minute with a looping, mishit cross from the touchline that somehow beat Andre Onana and tucked into the top corner to make it one all.
ANTONIO CANDREVA CATCHES ANDRÉ ONANA OFF OF HIS LINE AND RESCUES A POINT FOR SALERNITANA. pic.twitter.com/NapWcuNZ4d— CBS Sports Golazo ⚽️ (@CBSSportsGolazo) April 7, 2023
Onana - 5: Barely had anything to do other than deal with Candreva’s wild cross, which it felt like he could have done a bit better on despite its curl and unpredictability.
Acerbi - 6: Par for the course for the veteran, who notched 2 clearances, 4 interceptions, and 5 accurate long balls.
de Vrij - 5.5: Didn’t exactly instill confidence in the center of the back three, especially after a very rash challenge earned him a yellow early in the first half. Didn’t have much to do defensively otherwise.
Darmian - 6: Fared very similar to his defensive partners - the three of which all had the top three most touches on Inter if that gives you an idea of what type of game they had.
Gosens - 7: One of his best performances this season. Along with a very well-taken goal, Gosens managed 4 key passes, 2 clearances, 3 interceptions, and 3 duels won.
Mkhitaryan - 6: Third straight start and it showed as the Armenian struggled to make much of an impact, although he did manage 5 duels won and 4 interceptions.
Asllani - 7: A very strong showing from the young Albanian after a long spell on the bench. Had the 2nd most touches on the team when he was subbed off, made 6 key passes, and 5 accurate crosses.
Barella - 6: Had a few moments in the spotlight and managed 5 accurate long balls and 5 duels won but couldn’t show the sort of quality he can, perhaps due to so many minutes on his legs of late.
Dumfries - 6.5: Should have had an assist if not for Inter’s lack of clinicalness, notching 2 key passes, 4 crosses, 2 interceptions, and 3 duels won.
Lukaku - 4.5: Assisted Gosens’ goal but was the main culprit of Inter’s missed chances, ending the day with 5 shots and zero goals.
Correa - 5: Mr. Invisible once again.
Inzaghi - 6: Gave Asllani a start, rotated a few key players, and based on chances created should have won 3-0. However, his subs were a bit questionable, specifically bringing on Gagliardini for Asllani and taking off Lukaku, who despite all of those missed chances was Inter’s main dangerman. Feels like it’s only a matter of time before he gets the sack.
We’ll have to wait and see how other results go before we’ll know if this result takes Inter out of the top four or if we’ll have to wait until next week for that to happen. Unfortunately for us, the Nerazzurri will already be back in action this Tuesday with a visit to Benfica before hosting Monza Saturday.