With the Serie A resuming following the international break, it was Roma who prevailed against Inter in a 2-1 victory at the San Siro in a vital fixture within the race for a spot within the top four of the Serie A.
In terms of Inter’s starting lineup, Inzaghi introduced the rising Albanian prospect Kristjan Asllani as the holding midfielder within his 3-5-2 formation in the place of Marcelo Brozovic who suffered an injury during the international break and suspended simultaneously due to an over accumulation of yellows.
In addition, the gaffer started the skipper Samir Handanovic in goal despite Andre Onana’s impressive displays within the Champions League, and started the stellar wing-back Federico Dimarco on the left-hand side over Matteo Darmian following his superb performances for the Azzurri against England and Hungary respectively.
Meanwhile, all remains the same except for one change within Mourinho’s squad as the world-class Argentine returned to the starting lineup after suffering a muscular flexor injury , securing his spot in leading the front-line within the Giallorossi’s 3-4-1-2 formation over the English talisman Tammy Abraham.
Within the opening minutes of the fixture, it was Inter who established their dominance within their home stomping-ground as they pressed high and won the ball back easily in-transition. They possessed the ball with great composure and had some vibrant exchanges out-wide.
Within the third minute, the Turkish international Hakan Calhanoglu delivered a brilliant free-kick from outside of the box and found Lautaro Martinez. The 25 year-old prolific goal-scorer connected well but his impressive header was diffused by Rui Patricio with a great stop.
Despite several scary breaks from Roma’s swift counter-attacking style with the likes of Dybala and Lorenzo Pellegrini, Francesco Acerbi and Milan Skriniar were well-balanced within the back-line and coped with the situations with a high degree of ease.
In the 10th minute, a great pass from Di Marco out-wide was laid off for Nicolo Barella outside of the box. The central midfielder used his physicality to win the ball over his marker and distributed the ball to Lautaro Martinez, who found Edin Dzeko in-between the lines. The veteran striker fired a fabulous low-driven strike past Patricio in the bottom right-corner, but his opener was disallowed due to an offside.
Despite their goal being chalked off, Inzaghi’s men were unfazed as they continued empowering Roma with their exuberant passing-combinations.
The manner of which Barella was launching diagonal long-balls and Calhanoglu was linking up with the wing-backs was far to difficult for Roma to manage. As a result, several opportunities emerged as Acerbi’s header went off-target and the Turkish international’s striker went narrowly wide from goal.
The Giallorossi had a difficult opening half hour as they were unable to build out of the back as Inter’s high-press was causing an immense amount of trouble, leading them to constantly cough-up the ball.
As the vital fixture reached the 30 minute mark, Barella played an exquisite ball out-wide with the outside of the foot to find Dimarco along the flank. The wing-back performed a stunning movement to beat his marker and slithered the ball into the back of the net to hand the Nerazzurri a signifcant opening goal.
Chris Smalling ((As Roma via Getty Images))
Although Mourinho’s men fell behind, they did not let Dimarco’s strike fluster them as within the 39th minute, Leonardo Spinazzola did very well to intercept Calhanoglu’s pass.
The 29 year-old wing-back burst with pace on the transition and delivered a well-weighted cross to find the Dybala towards the second post. The clinical striker remained cool as he fired a venomous volley past the hands of Inter’s skipper to provide the capital club with the equalizer, forcing the first half to end on level terms.
Within the second half, Roma seemed much more at ease on the ball as they were making quick and innovative movements when switching from one side to another. Both teams seemed evenly match as they were eager to score, attempting to find the direct pass towards goal.
However, it was Inter who seemed to have prevailed as they caused Roma’s defence to be extremely vulnerable with Martinez’s fine-tuned dribbling and pace, resulting in the Gialolrossi back-line constantly giving fouls away. It was Calhanoglu who stepped up to one of them and struck the bar.
Later on, the Turkish play-maker laid the ball off for Asllani towards the edge of the box. The rising star did very well to wrap his foot around the ball and curl it towards the right side of the goal, but his shot drifted off-wide by very thin margins.
Just as it seemed like Inter were going to find the second goal, a free-kick was given to Roma following a clumsy shoulder challenge by Acerbi.
Pellegrini rose to the occasion as he delivered a brilliant cross from far out to find the English international Chris Smalling past Milan Skriniar in the box. The 30 year-old steered the ball in the back of the net with a well placed header to double Roma’s advantage at the San Siro with a quarter of an hour remaining on the clock.
Despite Inzaghi sacrificing several pieces on the chess board and bringing in Matteo Darmina, Joaquin Correa, Henrik Mkhitaryan,and Raul Bellanova in the hopes of at least finding an equalizer, it was no use as Roma were far too compact defensively.
In addition, the fact that La Benemata were constantly thriving forward paved the way for the pair of attacking substitutes Andrea Belotti and Abraham to easily slip through the Nerazzurri on the break.
Luckily for Handanovic, the English poacher attempted to twist and turn, but failed to put the nail on the coffin with his attempt while finding himself within a 1-v-1 against Skriniar.
In the end, a fine off-the-line clearance by Smalling enabled Roma to secure all three points in a 2-1 victory on the road, allowing them to lunge four points clear of Inter and temporarily pass Lazio in acquiring a spot within the Serie A.
Meanwhile, Inter find themselves within total disarray and misery as they remain in 7th with 12 points, eight points adrift from the league title and four points away from a Champions League spot.