Icardi strikes to ignite Inter’s season


He has done it again. Six goals in seven games against Juventus is now seven from eight. It’s a phenomenal record Mauro Icardi has acquired against the Bianconeri, stemming from his Sampdoria days. And in the context on Inter’s season, his goal on Sunday was perhaps the most important.

There was already talk of the sack hanging over Frank de Boer’s head. The Dutchman only entered the piece late in pre-season, as a replacement for Roberto Mancini. When the Italian left, the former Ajax man said he would need time to work with the squad. But results weren’t good and media reports were merciless.

A solitary – last-gasp – victory over Pescara, after a loss at Chievo and draw with Palermo, was not considered a good enough start. Worse was to come last Thursday, as Inter embarrassingly collapsed at home to Israeli side Hapoel Be’er Sheeva in the Europa League. A loss to Juventus would potentially spell the end of de Boer’s short reign.

With new Brazilian signing Gabigol watching on from the stands, it was a better Inter from the outset against their old foe. Other summer additions Joao Mario and Ever Banega looked comfortable in midfield, while the defence restricted the champions. The closest either side came in the first half was an Icardi curler which nicked the outside the post.

When Stephan Lichtsteiner popped up at the back post to deliver a sucker-punch just past the hour mark it looked like another long evening at the office for de Boer and co. But Inter, to their credit, have showed fighting spirit during this inconsistent start. Their three prior goals – all scored by Icardi – arrived after they fell behind, and none earlier than the 72nd minute.

Icardi climbed highest to head in the equaliser and break that mark by four minutes, a reward for a strong performance. The Argentine turned provider with 11 minutes to go, with Inter capitalising on a rare Juve defensive error as Ivan Perisic came off the bench to head past Gianluigi Buffon.

The captain hopes the 2-1 win can spark the Nerazzurri campaign. “Juventus are one of my favourite teams to score goals against. However, we can’t just play one good game. We must continue like this.”

De Boer’s side face winnable matches against Empoli in midweek and then Bologna, before a trip to Roma. Icardi said on Monday consistency is the key to Inter enjoying a fruitful season. Ensuring the Juventus performance is not a one-off is imperative.

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