It was the match Stevan Jovetic needed to have. Without a Serie A goal since December and with Inter’s hopes of qualifying for the Champions League in need of a boost, the Montenegrin striker responded. For Jovetic it was liberation, a chance to put behind a difficult five month spell.
He started the season on fire, scoring Inter’s first three goals of the campaign in narrow wins over Atalanta and Carpi. That suggested the summer loan move from Manchester City could prove a fruitful one. But it looked a false dawn for Jovetic, who had hoped to be revitalised back in Italy, following a difficult time at Etihad Stadium.
A goal against Udinese before Christmas and a Coppa Italia strike a month later at Napoli were Jovetic’s only further chances for celebration. Then came the return meeting with the Zebrette on Saturday.
It didn’t look good for Inter as Cyril Thereau scored inside 10 minutes. Chasing down Roma for a chance to finish third, a loss would all but end that dream. Jovetic was on hand to tap in Mauro Icardi’s centre from close range to equalise before half-time.
He then put the Nerazzurri ahead with only 15 minutes to play, turning Jonathan Biabiany’s cross home with his chest. Eder’s injury time first goal for Inter sealed the points, but only after an important Samir Handanovic save.
Roberto Mancini was pleased as his side maintained their outside chance of reaching the Champions League, while also praising Jovetic. “Not only did he score two goals, but he can do a lot more and he knows that. Tonight everyone did well, we played a really good game.”
The goals were timely for the Montenegrin international. Jovetic missed the whole of March with injury and had gone three matches in his return without scoring. “I hadn’t played for a long while, but I am happy when I get to play, score or provide an assist.”
Reports on Sunday suggest Jovetic is a target of incoming Chelsea boss Antonio Conte. But Jovetic refuted any transfer discussion. “I have always been happy here and never even thought of leaving Inter.”
With Inter planning their strategy for next season, Champions League or not, Jovetic’s goals were important. And so too is how he finishes the season. He may be on loan, but has a mandatory buyout clause. If he can continue to find the target over the next three weeks it could convince Inter to go forth with him next term.