Cremonese vs Inter 1-2: Lautaro Inspires Nerazzurri Comeback

Serie A top-four hopefuls Inter came from behind to beat dead-last Cremonese 2-1 at the Stadio Giovanni Zini on Saturday evening. Simone Inzaghi’s side bounced back from a shock 1-0 home loss to Empoli on Monday to leapfrog Milan into second, at least temporarily.

The match didn’t start well for Inter as David Okereke opened the scoring in the 11th minute with a sublime finish off the woodwork to give Cremonese an early lead. However, new manager Davide Ballardini soon paid the price for pulling his lines back to defend a slender advantage.

Inter took control of the ball and pushed forward in numbers in pursuit of an immediate response. Cremonese’s lead lasted only ten minutes, with Lautaro Martinez restoring parity in the 21st minute. Edin Dzeko hit an almost-perfect volley first time from the resulting corner, forcing La Cremo goalkeeper Marco Carnesecchi to make a diving save.

However, Ballardini’s men failed to avert the danger as Martinez latched on the rebound to take his seasonal tally in Serie A to ten goals. Inter continued to dominate the game through and through, attempting a total of 20 first-half shots but to no avail.

Martinez came close to doubling his match output, picking up a loose ball inside Cremonese’s box, but his well-driven effort flew a whisker wide of the post. Carnesecchi kept his side afloat at halftime with a brace of stunning saves to thwart Federico Dimarco and Martinez late in the first half.

Dimarco put Carnesecchi to the test again after the interval, but the Cremonese shot-stopped stood strong to defend his goal. Despite his impressive effort to keep Inter at bay, there was a feeling it was only a matter of time before the visitors would complete the turnaround.

Who else but Martinez? Dzeko played in his attacking comrade with a delightful through ball, with the Argentine forward’s shot taking an awkward deflection into the net in the 65th minute. There’s no doubt Inter deserved to go in front, but Inzaghi’s poor in-game management nearly came back to haunt his side.

As has often been the case this season, Inter relinquished their attacking ambitions after turning the game on its head, allowing Cremonese to regroup. Ballardini showed intent by introducing his hard-hitter Cyriel Dessers midway through the second half, which almost paid off in the 78th minute.

Dessers whipped in an inviting low pass straight into the feet of Luca Zanimacchia, but the finish let another second-half substitute down. Moments later, the Nigerian striker broke one-on-one with Andre Onana after receiving a pinpoint pass from Soualiho Meite. However, he could only hit the side netting with a powerful shot.

Inter eventually kept their lead to climb to second, while Cremonese became the first team since Ancona in 2003/04 to go winless in the first 20 fixtures of a Serie A season. Nailed to the bottom of the table with only eight points, Ballardini’s men face an almost-impossible task of extending their top-flight status. They now trail 17th-placed Sassuolo by nine points.

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