Inter’s winning streak has survived a trip to the Eternal City. The Nerazzurri didn’t reach top gear, but it didn’t need to in order to ease past an injury-ravaged Roma 2-0, with goals coming from Federico Dimarco and an in-form Romelu Lukaku. That’s four wins from the last four in Serie A as Inter finds its form at the perfect moment and reignites its top-four chances.
Squad rotation was a common theme in the Digitalbits sponsorship derby, although this one featured alternate jerseys thanks to the company’s missed payments. Both teams were coming off midweek Serie A action and looking ahead to a European semifinal in a few days. Simone Inzaghi made 6 changes to the Verona win, bringing Joaquin Correa and Romelu Lukaku into the attack. Roma, on the other, hand was in the midst of an injury crisis with the likes of Chris Smalling, Paulo Dybala, Tammy Abraham, and Georginio Wijnaldum only fit enough for the bench, forcing Jose Mourinho into a 3-5-1-1 shape.
Proceedings began with Roma controlling the majority of possession, contrary to how the Giallorossi seemed set up to play. Inter managed to get into the game before too long, though Roma had the first good chance of the evening when a Lorenzo Pellegrini half-volley was tipped over the crossbar by Andre Onana in the 18th minute. Both teams canceled each other out for large stretches of the half, with neither side able to build much in the final third. Inter’s wingback-to-wingback connection proved a difference maker in the 33rd minute, however, and a sliding Federico Dimarco made it 1-0 after burying a Denzel Dumfries cross at the back post.
Federico Dimarco is on hand to give Inter the lead!— CBS Sports Golazo ⚽️ (@CBSSportsGolazo) May 6, 2023
A well worked team goal. pic.twitter.com/RY8bCXTgtG
The half ended without much fuss, as Inter looked to keep its lead alive and well into the interval. The Nerazzurri held 58% of possession but its 5 shots (2 on target) were level with Roma’s 5 (1 on target) and other than Dimarco’s goal, clear-cut chances were nowhere to be found.
Roma came out of the gate pushing for an equalizer and pinning Inter into its own half. The Giallorossi struggled to test Andre Onana’s goal, however, and the closest it came to a goal was a penalty appeal after Matteo Darmian blocked a cross on a slide tackle with an outstretched arm, but he was reprieved after the ball bounced off his leg first. Inzaghi brought on Lautaro Martinez and Raoul Bellanova at the hour mark to regain some control of the match, but instead, the action became choppy and full of stoppages here and there for injuries. Ultimately that proved to be to Inter’s benefit as Roma couldn’t take control, and the Nerazzurri made it 2-0 in the 74th minute. A gaffe from Roger Ibanez gifted Lautaro the ball and he slipped Lukaku in behind the Roma backline. The Belgian made no mistake and gave the Nerazzurri some vital breathing room with a quarter of an hour to go and Dybala and Abraham on the pitch.
Romelu Lukaku gets a gift from Lautaro Martínez and makes it 2-0!— CBS Sports Golazo ⚽️ (@CBSSportsGolazo) May 6, 2023
Roger Ibañez will not want to watch that again. pic.twitter.com/jpPAKS1QBL
Despite Rome’s desperate need for goals, Lautaro came closer than anyone to netting one in the 87th minute when he banged the crossbar from the top of the box. By the time the final whistle arrived, Inter had comfortably closed out the game while Roma brought on a trio of Primavera players. The Giallorossi outshot Inter 15 to 10 (although Inter had 4 shots on target vs their 3) and tallied 1.07 expected goals compared to Inter’s 0.86, but the Nerazzurri’s quality shined through and gave the visitors a deserved three points. Roma never seriously tested Onana, whereas Inter’s clinical edge proved the difference.
Onana - 7.5: An excellent showing from Onana. Made 3 saves and controlled his entire box superbly with a number of high claims and punches.
Bastoni - 7.5: Quite the evening from Bastoni. Was busy on both sides of the ball, making3 clearances, 3 interceptions, and winning 2 duels, as well as completing 10 long balls and 1 key pass.
Acerbi - 7: Rock-solid at the center of the back three. Won 6 duels, made 8 clearances, and blocked 2 shots.
Darmian - 7: Led Inter in touches (79), had 4 accurate long balls, 1 clearance, 2 interceptions, and 6 duels won.
Dimarco - 7.5: Became the second defender in Europe’s big five to have both scored and assisted over 5 goals alongside Jeremie Frimpong (perhaps a RWB target for this summer…). He also notched 2 duels won and 4 cross attempts.
Calhanoglu - 6: Not a very impactful game on the ball from Calhanoglu, who only managed 39 touches and an 80% passing accuracy. He was a bit more active defensively, where he made 2 tackles and won 3 duels.
Brozovic - 6.5: The way the game flowed Brozovic wasn’t able to do much on the ball, but he still managed the 2nd most touches on Inter (63), 4 accurate long balls, 2 clearances, 1 blocked shot, 1 interception, and 5 duels won.
Barella - 7: Not a perfect performance from Barella but just what Inter needed given the game-state against Roma. Won 4 duels, made 4 tackles, and provided 2 key passes.
Dumfries - 6.5: Didn’t do all that much outside of his assist with a very nice cross. The Dutchman’s usual issues popped up again (his 11 giveaways were the 3rd most on the team), but he still had a positive showing all things considered.
Correa - 5: Barely broke a sweat with just 21 touches and one off-target shot before an exit on the hour mark for Lautaro.
Lukaku - 8 (Man of the Match): Up to 3 goals and 3 assists in his last 4 outings for Inter, reaching his best form at the perfect time.
Inzaghi - 7: Still won’t play Lautaro and Lukaku together from the start, but that’s the only complaint from today. Gave some important players rest ahead of the UCL semi-final, got a massive result en route to the top four, and even let Bellanova play significant minutes.
Inter has until Wednesday for leg one of the Derby della Madonnina Champions League semifinal. For now, it can enjoy staying in 4th for one more weekend on 63 points, 2 ahead of Milan in 5th. Next up in Serie A is a home game against Sassuolo on Saturday.