Inter Cruise to Big Win Against Crotone in New Year Opener

Sunday saw the return to domestic action for Serie A and the first game on the agenda was Inter who played host to relegation threatened Crotone.

Inter had been on a tear towards the end of the year, winning their last 4 matches in the league placing them one point behind table topping city rivals Milan. Crotone’s league position on the other hand was far more perilous sitting just above Torino. Their form though was on the up having secured 7 points from a possible 12.

Antonio Conte began the new year by making only one change for his rampant Inter side, bringing experienced Chilean Arturo Vidal into midfield for attacker Ivan Perišić who dropped to the bench.

Crotone’s Giovanni Stroppa braced for the away trip by making two changes, one in defense with Luca Marrone taking the spot of Giuseppe Cuomo and in central midfield where Brazilian Eduardo came into replace Miloš Vulić.

The early stages of the game were quiet, both sides feeling their way back into competitive football after the Christmas break with no real chances created until Crotone took a shock early lead in the 10th minute through a really well worked short corner.

Junior Messias played a quick one two with striker Emmanuel Rivière creating space for his strike partner on the edge of the box to curl in an excellent in-swinging cross where the ball was glanced home by Italian midfielder Niccolò Zanellato.

Crotone nearly doubled their lead 5 minutes later when Messias broke away down the right after a counter attack but instead of shooting as he approached goalkeeper Handanović, he over ran the ball and tried to square it, tamely hitting it back across the box where it was intercepted by Stefan De Vrij.

Inter equalized with some neat build up play of their own just before the 20 minute mark. The ball was fed into Lukaku, who held it up turning his man and releasing partner Lautaro Martinez in behind the Crotone defence on the left. The Argentine was onto it in a flash controlling and finishing to the goalkeepers right with a powerful strike.

The striker was then on the end of a rustic challenge from Crotone defender Vladimir Golemić who clattered into the Argentine as he looked to turn in midfield after a quick throw in. The Serbian defender earning a yellow card for his troubles.

Lautaro was in the thick of the action and missed a good chance to put Inter ahead, failing to make a proper connection from an Ashely Young cross. Center back Stefan De Vrij had played a lovely long ball over the top for the wing back to run onto, with the Englishman cushioning the ball across to the onrushing striker who sliced his effort wide on the stretch.

The Milan side did not have to wait long though before taking the lead, a goal created through the impressive midfielder Nicolò Barella. The Italian took the ball driving to the left hand side of the box making it to the by-line. Barella then looked to square for striker Lautaro but Crotone defender Marrone in his attempt to intercept turned the ball into his own net.

Crotone were then awarded a penalty to level matters only a few minutes later. Reca took the ball on the left hand side of the box and as he cut inside, Vidal lunged across to try and tackle the defender but was too slow as the Italian poked it away from the Inter man with Vidal standing on the foot of his opponent.

After a quick VAR check by the referee on the pitch side cam, Golemić strode forward to plant a hard struck penalty to Handanović’s left to equalize matters before half time.

Conte reacted to the equalizer by replacing Vidal with Stefano Sensi in the midfield engine room, the Chilean once again failing to stamp any sort of authority on the game.

Inter reclaimed the lead 10 mins after half time, Lautaro Martinez the goal scorer once again. An excellent hold up play from Lukaku on the edge of the box brought Marcelo Brozović forward. The Belgian striker found the midfielder with a deflected back heel and he in turn swept the ball to Martinez on the left hand side of the box. The striker controlled the ball with his right and clipped a lovely finish over the goalkeeper into the top left hand corner with his left foot, much to his managers delight.

Lukaku got his first goal and his sides fourth. A long ball forward from Alessandro Bastoni down the left found the Belgian, showing his strength once again as he eased his counterpart Luperto off the ball before rolling to his left to go one on one with the goalkeeper. Lukaku kept his cool faking an initial attempt before firing a finish low into the Crotone net.

The goals did not stop there and Lautaro soon had his perfect hat-trick. Substitute Perišić did well to drill a powerful effort in on goal forcing Crotone’s Alex Cordaz to make a smart stop, the ball though bounced up for the Argentine to head in his third and his sides fifth.

As the game was coming to the end there was just enough time for Achraf Hakimi to get on the score sheet and get Inter’s sixth. Another quick counter attack was started by substitute Matteo Darmian, who burst into the box on the left before feeding the Moroccan who had waited on the edge. The wing back then produced a lovely finish curling into the bottom corner with Cordaz beaten once again.

The win sees Inter go top with fierce rivals Milan still to play this evening. Crotone will be left to wonder what might have been after a spirited first half but the quality of Inter shone through. After today’s set of games there is a short turn around before Crotone host another tile challenger in the shape of Roma and Inter meanwhile will travel to mid-table Sampdoria.



January 3, 2021 – Serie A 2020-21 Round 15

SCORERS: 12′ Zanellato (C), 19′ Lautaro Martinez (I), 31′ Marrone (C, o.g.), 35′ Golemic (C), 57′ Lautaro Martinez (I), 64′ Lukaku (I), 78′ Lautaro Martinez (I), 87′ Hakimi (I)

INTER (3-5-2): Handanovic; Skriniar, De Vrij, Bastoni (81′ Kolarov); Hakimi, Barella (70′ Gagliardini), Brozovic, Vidal (46′ Sensi), Young (76′ Darmian); Lautaro Martinez, Lukaku (75′ Perisic) (Padelli, Radu, Ranocchia, D’Ambrosio, Eriksen, Sanchez) Coach: Conte
CROTONE (3-5-2): Cordaz; Golemic (84′ Djidji), Marrone, Luperto (71′ Magallan); Pereira, Molina (85′ Vulic), Zanellato, Henrique, Reca; Rivière (61′ Simy), Messias (86′ Rojas) (Festa, Rispoli, Cuomo, Petriccione, Crociata, Dragus, Siligardi) Coach: Stroppa

REFEREE: Mr. Aureliano from Bologna
NOTES: Yellow Cards: Golemic, Reca (C); Extra Time: 1st Half 0′, 2nd Half 0′