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Inter Milan 1 - 2 Sassuolo: Match Review

Despite taking the lead at the end of the first half, a lackluster second half results in Inter’s first defeat of the season

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

A positive start by Inter faded as the game wore on, and by the second half the Nerazzurri were on their heels. Taking a 1 - 0 lead into the break was not enough as Sassuolo came on strong after the break to reverse the fixture with a final score of 1 - 2. Sassuolo, the bogey team of years past - having won 4 out of 10 against Inter at the San Siro - handed Inzaghi’s team their first defeat of the season.

Starting XIs

Inter lineup vs. Sassuolo
Inter lineup vs. Sassuolo

Inzaghi went with the same lineup used in the first few games of the season, with the exception of Acerbi replacing de Vrij. Of note, Darmian was back at RCB, Barella in midfield, and Thuram as a striker. With the possible exception of Pavard, Inter fielded its strongest lineup.

Sassuolo lineup vs. Inter
Sassuolo lineup vs. Inter

Sassuolo started with a 4-2-3-1 with Pinamonti as the center forward and the ever-dangerous Berardi on the right wing.

First Half

Inter started on the right foot, with three corners in the first 5 minutes, but as was the story throughout the game, their last pass was off. In the 6th minute, Thuram extended the ball too far, resulting in an easy Consigli save. In the 14th minute, Bastoni’s cross to Dimarco should have opened the scoring but Federico was unable to connect. This continued throughout the first half and in the 39th minute Sassuolo almost scored, requiring a very good save from Sommer on Toljan’s shot. It looked like the teams would go into the break without a score, but in the 46th minute Dumfries beat his man down the wing, but instead of passing it to an open Mhkitarian, he decided to shoot and slotted the ball in the corner. Based on how the last pass was off all night, it was clearly the right decision by Dumfries. An error by Hakan (errant header back to Sommer) in the 49th minute almost drew Sassuolo level, but Sommer made himself big and was able to deflect the ball.

While not a great first half for Inter, the statistics at the midway point were positive with 66% possession, 8 shots vs. 5 for Sassuolo (but only 1 on target), and 320 passes vs. 163.

Second Half

Inter came out of the locker room lacking energy as they struggled throughout the second half. Sassuolo should have tied it in the 52nd minute, but Erlic’s header went wide. Two minutes later, Bajrami equalized on a shot to the near post that Sommer should have saved. Inter continued to either miss the last pass or shoot off target when they had chances. Then in the 63rd minute, Berardi put the Neroverdi in front for good with a super strike from outside the box. There was nothing Sommer could do about this goal.

In the 68th minute, Inzaghi brought on the subs (too late in my opinion) and what was probably Inter’s best chance to draw level occurred in the 70th minute. Augusto found Frattesi in the box, but his chesting of the ball was a bit strong so it did not leave him enough room to lob the ball over Consigli. By this point, you would have expected an all-out assault by Inter, but the team still lacked energy and it was another great save by Sommer in the 89th minute that kept the team in the game. In the 92nd minute, an Inter free kick went into the box but Acerbi’s shot was straight at Consigli.

Player Ratings

Sommer - 5.5: While he made two outstanding saves, he should have saved the opening goal and who knows what would have happened if Inter had kept the lead. His passing was also off this evening, with a 74% success rate.

Bastoni - 6: Alessandro looked good going forward, but both Sassuolo goals originated from his side. Should he have done a better job marking Berardi on that strike? He had 93% passing accuracy, 100% on long balls, but only won 3 of his 7 duels. (68’ de Vrij - 6: won 4 of 5 duels and had 1 tackle and 1 interception.)

Acerbi - 6.5 (Man of the Match): Was excellent in defense, with 5 interceptions, 1 tackle and 1 clearance. Won 7 of his 9 duels and was unlucky not to score in the 92’.

Darmian - 5.5: Seemed out of position several times throughout the match, but did have 97 touches (led the team) with 3 tackles and 2 interceptions.

Dimarco - 5: The hero against Empoli only connected on 2 of 10 crosses, and lost possession 15 times. It was not his night. (68’ Augusto - 6.5: had 2 key passes, 2 long balls, connected on 3 out of 4 crosses, and set up Frattesi for what could have been the tying goal.)

Mkhitaryan - 5.5: Was not in the game much, with only 38 touches. He did win all 5 of his duels but was unable to impact the game. (68’ Frattesi - 6: Should have done better with his scoring chance, but had a 100% pass success rate and connected on 2 of 2 long balls.)

Calhanoglu - 6: By his standards, it was an off night as he had several poor first touches and passes. However, he did connect on 92% of his passes, including 2 of 3 long balls. He also won 4 of his 5 duels. (85’ Klaassen: no rating as he only had 3 touches.)

Barella - 6: Nicolo was all over the field but did not have any positive impacts on the game. He lost possession 16 times, lost all 8 of his duels, and only had an 89% pass success rate.

Dumfries - 6: Yes, he scored the sole Inter goal, but outside of that he did not have a good night. He only connected on 1 of 4 crosses, has a miserable 74% pass success rate, and lost possession a team-high 16 times.

Thuram - 5: Marcus tried to make his mark on the game and it looked promising early as he was able to fly by Vina on a consistent basis. However, he was unable to impact the game as he only had 29 touches and a 70% pass accuracy rate. (68’ Sanchez - 5.5: tried to bring a spark to the team but was unable to have any positive impact.)

Lautaro - 5.5: His first touch this evening was poor most of the match. He was his usual energetic self but like his strike partner, he was unable to make any kind of impact. He did have 3 tackles and 1 interception while defending.

Inzaghi - 5.5: I think Simone had the right starting lineup but was unable to keep the team motivated after the break. With the team performing poorly in the second half, he took too long to make substitutions.

With AC Milan’s win earlier in the day, Inter Milan is now tied for first, and Juventus is only 2 points behind. The good news is the team can wash away this loss in just three days as they face a trip to lowly Salernitana. A strong game will do lots to restore the team’s confidence.