Inter came from behind late on to beat Parma 2-1 on Sunday night, just about keeping their faint Scudetto hopes alive.
A disjointed first-half performance from Inter saw the hosts take full advantage, as former Arsenal man Gervinho gave Parma the lead 15 minutes in after some crafty footwork sat Antonio Candreva down.
Andreas Cornelius – fresh off the back of his hat-trick at Genoa last time out – meanwhile, spurned several glorious opportunities in the opening period, as Inter struggled to deal with Parma’s dynamic but well-balanced front three throughout.
A fast start was required by the visitors after the break and although their performance levels certainly improved, they were kept at bay by a resolute Parma backline while the hosts continued to threaten on the break.
However, just as it appeared the Gialloblu would comfortably hold on to their lead, Inter struck twice in the final ten minutes to snatch victory. The ever-impressive Stefan de Vrij and Alessandro Bastoni scored either side of Juraj Kucka’s dismissal to hand the Nerazzurri a mightily important three points.
Starting XI: Pepe (6); Laurini (6), Dermaku (8), Alves (7), Gagliolo (6); Kucka (5), Scozzarella (7), Kurtic (7); Kulusevski (8), Cornelius (6), Gervinho (8).
Subs: Pezzella (6), Hernani (5), Regini (6), Darmian (N/A), Brugman (N/A).
Key Talking Point
No Marcelo Brozovic. No Milan Skriniar. Antonio Conte suspended. Inter’s trip to Parma was always going to be a difficult one – a ground they’ve won at just five times in their last 25 visits no less – and that’s exactly how it proved on Sunday night.
The Nerazzurri were nothing short of woeful for much of the contest; they were exposed in defensive transition once more without Brozovic, while their two outside centre backs struggled mightily against Gervinho and Dejan Kulusevski.
Going forward, meanwhile, Lautaro Martinez looked woefully out of sorts, Christian Eriksen was marked out the contest by Matteo Scozarella, and the wing-backs continued to be ineffective. Overall, they regularly failed to combine and penetrate a sturdy Parma backline.
But hey, it’s that Conte grinta – even if he was only watching from the stands – and their late show on Sunday night out of nowhere means they’re still in this title race with ten games to go. Just about.
Starting XI: Handanovic (6); D’Ambrosio (5), De Vrij (8*), Godin (4); Candreva (5), Barella (5), Gagliardini (5), Biraghi (5); Eriksen (5); Lautaro (4), Lukaku (5).
Subs: Alexis (7), Moses (6), Young (5), Bastoni (7), Valero (N/A).
A confident Cornelius ensured the Dutchman didn’t have the easiest of outings, but the typically superb Inter defender was by far the Nerazzurri’s best player on the night.
It was an intriguing duel with Cornelius throughout, but De Vrij’s aggression often saw him come out on top. With Inter’s back three failing to receive any sort of protection from its unathletic wing-backs and a midfield that’s easily bypassed without Brozo, De Vrij did well at times to thwart dangerous three-on-three situations with astute positioning and smart anticipation.
It didn’t help that his two centre back partners were often overwhelmed throughout either.
Nevertheless, a sound defensive display by Serie A’s finest defender was rewarded with a goal, as he headed home from Lautaro’s nod across goal. It was his strike which served as the catalyst for Bastoni’s winner soon after.
Next up for Inter is a home clash against Serie B bound Brescia on Wednesday night before they take on Bologna at San Siro on Sunday afternoon.
Parma, meanwhile, will travel to surprise package Hellas Verona on Wednesday before hosting Fiorentina at the weekend.