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Cagliari 0 - 2 Inter Milan: Match Recap

Inter make it two in a row to kickoff the campaign

Cagliari Calcio v FC Internazionale - Serie A TIM
Inter celebrate second goal of the match
Photo by Enrico Locci/Getty Images

Inter followed up their opening match 2-0 win with another 2-0 win, this time on the road at Cagliari. With strong team play and steady nerves, Inter cruised to a two-goal lead by halftime to keep pace with Napoli and AC Milan at the top of the table (along with Verona). Goals by Denzel Dumfries and Lautaro Martinez sealed the win early for the Neroazzuri. While Inzaghi’s team only held a small edge in expected goals (0.97 vs 0.63), they doubled up the home team in possession (67% vs 33%) and total passes (677 vs 332).

Starting XIs

Cagliari starting formation
Inter starting formation

Inter started with the identical lineup from the first match against Monza. With the exception of Francesco Acerbi, who is still nursing a calf injury, the team was at full strength (excluding any latest transfer market additions). Cagliari had three players unavailable due to injury, including Gianluca Lapadula and Marko Rog.

First Half

While Cagliari started off strong in the first two minutes of the match, it did not take long for Inter to take control of the game in both pace and possession. In the 14th minute, Lautaro hit the post on a volley from inside the box after a poor clearance from the home team. Inter again came close to opening up the scoring in the 19th minute as a pass inside the box from Thuram to Lautaro was a bit late, and Sulemana blocked his shot. The away team did not have to wait much longer, though, as Dumfries scored one minute later after Thuram beat Cagliari to a loose ball and provided a perfect thru-pass for Denzel to accurately place in the far corner of the goal.

It didn’t take long for Cagliari to almost draw level as Nandez got behind the defense, but a speedy recovery from Çalhanoğlu resulted in his deflecting the shot into a corner. Finally, in the 30th minute, Lautaro doubled up the lead as Dimarco and Thuram had a nice give-and-go, followed by a great cross to the team captain.

The only other major development in the first half was an injury to Pavoletti and his being replaced in the 35th minute by the electric Luvumbo, who would go on to cause Inter some fits in the second half.

Second Half

While Inter played with great intensity in the first half, they lowered it a bit after the interval but never seemed at risk of losing the game. Luvumbo provided a nice spark for the home side but could not change the scoreline. A little later than usual, Simone Inzaghi made his first three substitutions, replacing Dimarco with Carlos, Dumfries with Cuadrado, and Barella with Frattesi. In the 73rd minute, Cagliari appealed for a penalty, but it was Luvumbo who crashed into Bastoni’s leg. In the 77th minute, Arnautovic came on for Thuram, and in the 82nd minute, Sensi came on for a hobbling Mkhitaryan after he and Luvumbo collided. Finally, in the 86th minute, Çalhanoğlu hit the post as Dossena deflected his shot, and Sommer made a very nice save in the 89th minute off a close-range, but not very forceful, shot from Azzi. After 5 minutes of stoppage time, Mr. Fabbri blew the final whistle.

Player Ratings

Sommer - 6.5: Two starts, two shutouts. Yann did not have much to do, but he did have two saves in the match. He needs to improve his passing as only 4 of his 9 long passes were on target.

Bastoni - 7: A strong game from the LCB with 6 tackles, 1 blocked shot, 1 interception, and 91% passing rate. Bastoni has 122 touches in the game.

de Vrij - 6.5: Overall had a good game, but was challenged in the second half by Luvumbo’s quickness. Had only 1 tackle and 1 blocked shot, but won 3 of his 4 duels during the match.

Darmian - 6.5: Another match with limited involvement for Darmian, who only had 65 touches. However, Darmian did have 3 tackles, 2 blocked shots, and his sole cross was successful.

Dimarco - 7.5: Got the assist on the second goal after a great give-and-go with Thuram. Federico won both of his duels, made 1 tackle, notched 4 key passes, 3 crosses, and a 89% passing accuracy.

Mkhitaryan - 5.5: A sub-par performance from Mkhitaryan, featuring no key passes or crosses, 89% passing accuracy, and only won 1 out of 4 duels. He had ice on his knee after being subbed, so it will be interesting to see if he will be fit for Sunday’s match.

Calhanoglu - 8.5 (Man of the Match): Outstanding defensively with 5 duels won, 5 tackles, 2 blocked shots, and 2 clearances. Offensively, he hit the woodwork, connected in 11 of 13 long balls and has an incredible 98% pass accuracy. Led the team with 127 touches and playing the best football of his career!

Cagliari Calcio v FC Internazionale - Serie A TIM Photo by Mattia Pistoia - Inter/Inter via Getty Images
Cagliari Calcio v FC Internazionale - Serie A TIM Photo by Mattia Pistoia - Inter/Inter via Getty Images

Barella - 6: A quiet game for Nicolo with only 65 touches, 1 key pass, 1 cross and 2 shots (1 on target). Only made 1 tackle defensively.

Dumfries - 6.5: Scored the opener, but otherwise a quiet night with only 50 touches, 0 crosses, 1 long ball and 1 tackle.

Lautaro - 8: Another strong performance from El Toro with one goal and post. Had 6 total shots, and is a leader running all over the pitch. Had an important tackle in the 86th minute.

Thuram - 6.5: Only had 27 touches, but had 1 assist and was key in the buildup to the second goal. Strong physically and aggressive in pressing. Hopefully the goals will start coming soon.

Inzaghi - 7: Stuck with what worked in week 1 and the team did not disappoint. The team seems focused and playing well together. Would like to see Frattesi, Arnautovic and Asllani get more playing time.

Next up for Inter is a match at the San Siro against Fiorentina. This will be a stronger opponent, but one that has been inconsistent in play so far.