Antonio Conte and Inter Bring Sassuolo Time to a Sudden Halt

The Seven Sisters are united to maintain their stranglehold on Serie A as Inter brought an end to Sassuolo’s enterprising run in the Italian top-flight with a comfortable 0-3 victory. The Nerazzurri thus jumped into second place and now trail cross-town rivals Milan by two points.

A decade ago, Antonio Conte was in the shoes of Roberto De Zerbi. The combative tactician proved his credentials in Italy and then stomped his authority in the Premier League. He is beckoning to make his mark with Inter and Serie A. His young counterpart has an impressive resume and is getting noticed for his achievements with Sassuolo.

Both sides needed a win to prove their credentials, and it was the visitors who got the bragging rights at the Mapei Stadium. Alexis Sanchez shocked the hosts in the initial exchanges, with a Vlad Chiriches own goal adding to their woes. In the second half, Roberto Gagliardini would make it 0-3.

Fresh from their defeat at the hands of Real Madrid at the San Siro, the Nerazzurri came into the game with a point to prove. Lautaro Martinez should have scored in the first minute, but an Andrea Consigli’s reflex save denied him.

It would not be the case three minutes later when the Argentine would turn provider for his Chilean counterpart, who calmly rolled the ball into the left corner to open the proceedings.

Inter’s next opportunity came as Ivan Perisic went on a dizzying solo run. However, Consigli was equal to the task in the Sassuolo goal. The custodian was not called into action for Lautaro’s effort from the edge of the box, but it was well wide of the right post.

Pressure from Conte’s men paid dividends, and the Neroverdi were forced into making mistakes. The villain of Wednesday night, Arturo Vidal, turned hero without even intending it. His fierce shot into the box went straight at Vlad Chiriches, who guided it into the back of the net while attempting to clear.

Going two goals down, Sassuolo finally roused up from their slumber. They had taken enough battering and began to boss possession as Inter lost momentum. While the Neroverdi could not create clear-cut opportunities, they did try their luck from a distance. Filip Djuricic and Jeremy Toljan put Samir Handanovic under pressure, but the Slovenian had it under control.

Before halftime, matters got worse for Sassuolo as Vlad Chirches limped off the pitch grabbing his left hamstring. Roberto De Zerbi had his work cut out before the start of the game, and it did not look as if the tide was swaying his way.

After the break, it went from bad to worse. Fifteen minutes into the second half, the Nerazzurri struck again. De Zerbi had just made a tactical substitution in search of good news in Sassuolo Time. However, it seemed to have backfired.

On the hour mark, Matteo Darmian found Roberto Gagliardini on an Inter counter-attack, whose fierce volley had no answer from the Neroverdi defense.

Inter relaxed with a comfortable lead in the bag and allowed Sassuolo to make something out of the game. It would not come to fruition as the Nerazzurri defense kept their hosts at bay. The three central defenders and their complementing wing-backs were always in complete control despite Jeremie Boga and Domenico Berardi’s attempts.

The score would not change, and Sassuolo will have two titles stripped away from them: Inter leapfrogged them despite having the same points tally, and Conte’s men also became Serie A’s top-scoring side as they reaffirmed their position as genuine title contenders.

The result will not hurt Sassuolo as they suffer their first loss of the 2020-21 Italian top-flight campaign, but Roberto De Zerbi will not be pleased by his side’s inability to test Samir Handanovic regularly. With their next test coming against in-form Roma, they will have to give a better account of themselves next week.



November 28, 2020 – Serie A 2020-2021 Round 9

SCORERS: 4′ Sanchez, 14′ Chiriches (o.g.), 60′ Gagliardini

SASSUOLO (4-2-3-1): Consigli; Toljan (59′ Muldur), Chiriches (42′ Marlon), Ferrari, Rogerio; M. Lopez (76′ Schiappacasse), Locatelli; Berardi, Djuricic (59′ Obiang), Boga; Raspadori (31′ st Traore) (Pegolo, Magnanelli, Ayhan, Peluso, Oddei, Bourabia, Kyriakopoulos) Coach: De Zerbi
 INTER (3-5-2): Handanovic; Skriniar, De Vrij, Bastoni; Darmian (92′ Hakimi), Barella (85′ Sensi), Vidal, Gagliardini, Perisic (85′ Eriksen); Lautaro Martinez (79′ Lukaku), Sanchez (80′ Young) (Radu, Stankovic, D’Ambrosio) Coach: Conte

REFEREE: Mr. Irrati from Pistoia
NOTES: Yellow Cards: Locatelli, Rogerio, M. Lopez (S), Perisic (I); Extra Time: 1st Half 2′; 2nd Half 3′