Forget Juventus, well forget them for now anyway because all of a sudden it feels like a decade ago, before Cristiano Ronaldo flexed his brilliance in Turin, before the run of 9 titles in a row, Milan and Inter are 1st and 2nd in Serie A and both clubs will want to be more than just pacesetters.
The Old Lady aren’t far behind of course just 1 point separates them from Inter but for Antonio Conte’s team the weekend result was a good one, a 3-0 victory away to Sassuolo.
Alexis Sanchez opened the scoring in just the 4th minute and it is funny what confidence can do for a player. It has been no secret that Sanchez has been struggling for a few seasons now, but it was nice to see the Chilean international score last weekend and he scored again. Lautaro Martinez’s initial effort was stopped by the goalkeeper but the ball came back to the striker and instead of going for goal again used his maturity to square the ball to the waiting Sanchez who had an easy chance.
Ten minutes later it seemed that the game was slipping from the home side’s grasp even before it had really begun when a dangerous cross was pinballed into the five yard area and Vlad Chiriches scored an own goal which was unfortunate for him.
Even though it was 2-0 to Inter early on Sassuolo did not to their credit lie down and had a few good chances themselves, indeed each club recorded 3 shots on target in the first 45 minutes and Sassuolo dominated possession but couldn’t get the break through.
In the end it took until the hour mark to see a third goal and more importantly for Inter it was for them. It was to be by far the best goal of the match scored by Roberto Gagliardini. The midfielder received the ball on the right hand side edge of the box and with the ball slightly in the air toe poked it delightfully, for the sheer beauty of it this goal should be considered one of the best of the season.
There was a chance near the end to make it 4-0 which would have gone down as one of the extraordinary goals with two different Inter players volleying the ball to each other before Sanchez volleyed it towards goal- but alas it wasn’t to be. But this win was another important statement for the club that they could be league contenders.
Inter are in 2nd and are 5 points behind city rivals Milan who beat Fiorentina 2-0. Inter have won 11 points from their last 15 available and have lost just once so far this season.
Antonio Conte said after the Sassuolo game that despite the 3-0 victory this wasn’t a great performance. “We always try to give our best, at times it works better than others, sometimes the results aren’t as positive but we always give 100 per cent. It’s our best result of the season, but other performances have been far better. The result tends to affect judgement of performances. If we are talking about furore and determination, then perhaps it was the best, but if we’re discussing quality of football, then that’s a different matter. The ideal is to combine those two elements.”
Inter beat Borussia Monchengladbach to give hope for Champions League survival
Group B is tighter than tight and only 3 points separates 1st from 4th. Inter are currently last with 5 points but saved themselves from a group exit when they beat Borussia Monchengladbach 3-2 in Germany. It was an absolutely fantastic result given that the Bundesliga team are top of the group and it was their first defeat of the group stages.
Matteo Darmain opened the scoring for Conte’s side but the hero of the night was Romelu Lukaku who scored a brace to win the game 3-2. Lukaku had made his comeback in the league game but came on as a late substitute but it was in this match where Lukaku underlined just what an important player he is for the club.
There is only one more game to be played in the group stages and Inter must beat Shakhtar Donetsk. The good news is that Conte’s team will, at least, be at home. When Inter played Shakhtar away from home earlier in the group games the match finished 0-0. However Inter will also need Real Madrid to beat Borussia Monchengladbach in their final game, and Real will need to go for the win to assure qualification anyway. Madrid will be at home for that game.
Spotlight on Romelu Lukaku
Romelu Lukaku is the one player that just keeps scoring the goals and rescuing Inter and he did so yet again in the Champions League. Inter will be hoping that the Belgian international will be able to perform at 100% when they take on Shakhtar in a crucial final game of the group stages.
Italian media have been praising Lukaku this week and the player himself has admitted that his time at Inter so far has been the best of his career- in short he is enjoying his football and it is really showing on the pitch. Lukaku has scored seven goals in just 8 league matches this season and overall has netted 45 goals in just 63 games.
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